Sus·tain·a·ble (adj): involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources.
Sustainable building materials are products that won’t completely exhaust a resource or resources over time. They can be made by recycling things that would otherwise end up in a landfill (i.e. composite decking that uses recycled plastics), reduce energy usage (i.e. energy-efficient windows or solar panels), or even be made from organic materials that reproduce quickly (i.e. bamboo and cork).
Unlike a couple of decades ago, sustainable building materials are no longer just a niche market. In fact, there are probably materials you’re familiar with that fit the definition of “sustainable” but aren’t advertised as such. Manufacturers have shifted to producing sustainable products because the raw materials needed to create them are renewable, which makes them more cost-effective and easier to source.
windows that reduce energy use:
Windows use a different method to achieve sustainability. Because glass is expensive to recycle and maintain clarity, window manufacturers, like Marvin, reduce homeowners’ energy use in a couple of different ways.
The first way is increasing or decreasing (depending on the climate you live in) the amount of heat your windows hold in your home. This is called U-Factor. There are a lot of technical aspects of U-Factor but what you need to know is that a lower U-Factor means the window holds more heat and a higher U-Factor means the window doesn’t hold as much heat. Generally, windows with lower U-Factors are preferred in Iowa because of our cold winters. In Iowa, windows with low U-Factors provide more sustainability because homeowners don’t have to run their furnaces as much to keep their homes warm, which saves energy.
Another way windows can save energy and achieve sustainability is based on the anatomy of multi-pane windows. Single pane windows are a thing of the past because they do not provide much insulation. Double (or triple) pane windows provide a sealed buffer that provides much more insulation. Commonly argon, a safe, non-toxic gas, fills the space between the panes to add even more insulation because argon is denser and heavier than normal air. Properly installed double pane windows from Marvin will last at least 20 years before their insulating properties decrease—and that’s a lot of energy savings.
If you’d like to dig into the more technical side of energy-efficient windows, check out this video from Marvin:
In 2022, you don’t have to be an environmentalist to use sustainable building materials—you just have to look at the cost over the lifetime of the product. Our expert staff at Suburban is always ready to help you understand the sustainability of different materials and how upfront costs and lifetime costs of different products compare. Stop by our showroom, give us a call or contact us online.