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Triple-pane opportunity

New Department of Energy Volume Purchase Program offers builders, manufacturers opportunity to transform market to more energy efficient windows and low-E storm windows

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May 27, 2010 Share This!

  • The U.S. Department of Energy and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have launched the Highly Insulating (R-5) and Low-E Storm Windows Volume Purchase Program to transform market to more energy efficient windows.
    Photo Courtesy of Donna Grayson

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WASHINGTON — Builders, agencies and volume buyers in search of more energy efficient products at cost-effective prices will have a new place to look starting today.  The U.S. Department of Energy will launch the Highly Insulating (R-5) and Low-E Storm Windows Volume Purchase Program and Web site with an announcement at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington, have been working with window industry professionals for the last 12 months in an effort to bring manufacturers and distributors of high performance, energy efficient windows together with homebuilders, weatherization agencies, educational institutions and others capable of purchasing large volumes of these windows. 

With a reasonably low minimum order requirement of 15-20 windows, purchasers will be able to peruse the new program's Web site to select a Highly Insulating (R-5) or Low-E storm window from more than 30 manufacturers who have met the requirements of the program.  Buyers interested in pricing and specifying more efficient windows simply need to access the program's Web site and begin their search.

 "The volume purchase program brings new and emerging technologies to the mainstream market at competitive prices," said Graham Parker, project manager for PNNL.  "High performance windows are ready to enter the market at just the right time," said Parker, "when the nation is trying to address energy efficiency, job creation and savings for consumers."

While double-pane, low-E, R-3 (U-factor 0.3) windows have typically been considered the standard of energy efficiency for more than a decade, triple-pane windows (typically R-5/U-factor 0.2) can reduce average heat loss through the window by more than 30 percent, when compared to R-3 windows in residential buildings situated in northern climate zones. In situations where full window replacement is not an option, low-E storm windows can be used to reduce heat loads by up to 20 percent, allowing them to pay for themselves in just five years in a climate such as Chicago's.  

Although triple-pane windows have been available for decades they have existed primarily as niche products whose prices made them unsuitable for mainstream market adoption.  The savings for both R-5 windows and low-E storm windows are a significant improvement over products available today, and many meet DOE's price premium target over R-3 (U-factor 0.3) windows of less than $4 per square-foot. 

On the Web site, buyers select the window type of interest from the homepage.  The buyer then selects the window sizes of interest from a menu of size and corresponding price ranges for each (lowest to highest price for that size range).  A dropdown menu will then appear showing all the qualified suppliers offering windows of that size range as well as the color and type of frame material available, and their shipping region in North America.  Clicking on the link for the supplier will take the buyer directly to that supplier's Web site for completing the sale. 

This effort to bring the supply and demand to the same arena and thereby stimulate competition reflects a historically successful energy technology market transformation strategy that has been successfully demonstrated by DOE on a number of technologies the past 15 years, such as super-efficient apartment-sized refrigerators, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and high performance clothes washers.

Today's event at NAHB headquarters begins at 3 p.m. EDT and will give attendees an opportunity to learn more about the specifics of the program from DOE managers.  The event also will celebrate the many successes realized since the inception of the program, including:

  • The establishment of competitive prices.
  • The addition of 23 important program partners including: the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, Illinois (CEDA); National Community Action Foundation (NCAF); and Youthbuild USA.
  • More than 30 qualified manufacturers and distributors currently are offering products and soon will be available on the Web site, with more anticipated in the coming weeks.


Manufacturers participating in the program include: Accuweld a Haddon Windows LLC; Advanced Window Corp.; Andersen Corp.; Armaclad Windows & Doors; Associated Materials, Inc.; Atrium Windows & Doors; BF Rich Windows & Doors; Champion Window Manufacturing; Clear Concepts & Windows; Four Seasons Sunrooms; Gilkey Window Co.; Gorell Windows and Doors; Harvey Building Products; Jeld-Wen, Inc.; Kasson & Keller, Inc.; Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co., Inc.; Larson Manufacturing Co., Inc.; Mercury/Excelum, Inc.; National Vinyl LLC; Newtec Window and Door; NT Window, Inc.; Pella Corp.; Ply Gem Windows; Serious Materials; Shwinco; Simonton Windows; Soft-Lite, LLC; Sunrise Windows; Thermo-Tech Windows, Inc.; THV Compozit Windows & Doors; Valley Building Supply; Vista Windows Co. and Weathervane Windows.


This work was funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Tags: Energy, Energy Efficiency, Green Energy

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