Energy Star Homes Program Spurring Demand for High Performance Windows Too

A growing number of new home builders have found a point of differentiation in the marketplace by offering Energy Star-qualified homes. Studies reveal that homebuyers feel good about being good stewards of the environment—but they feel even better about saving money on energy bills.

Consequently, with more people staying in their homes longer, energy-rated homes are becoming an easier sell for builders. When given a choice between a run-of-the-mill track home and a home that offers long-term savings, it becomes a no-brainer. And the projections prove it. According to McGraw-Hill Construction’s Green Home Builders and Remodelers study published in February 2012, green homes comprised 17 percent of the overall construction market in 2011. Conservatively, that number is expected to grow to 29 percent to 38 percent by 2016.

 MI is finding more builders that want levels of window performance beyond current Energy Star criteria.

Redesigning, retooling, recertifying and remarketing all add up to time and expense. And, with the way new construction is getting greener by the year, hitting these numbers is no longer just for players in the remodeling market. It’s anyone’s concern who wants to remain competitive.

In 2008 and 2009, when many companies were scrambling to meet the .30/.30, along with the latest Energy Star requirements, MI Windows, a national company primarily focused on residential and light commercial new construction, already had its sights on 2013 and beyond. In 2011, the company officially launched a full line of window products that well exceed future Energy Star requirements, R-5 requirements and virtually any other currently existing rating system with U-factors that range from 0.18 to 0.20–across a full catalog of styles, sizes and glass options.

“Our goal was to offer a simple solution to help builders meet their energy-efficiency goals without sacrificing aesthetics and design flexibility,” say Mike DeSoto, president of the company’s western division. “By collaborating with our suppliers, doing a lot of research and talking with our window dealers, we created a complete product line that exceeds the Energy Star standards, plus meets other important features for the architect, such as high sound transmission ratings, high design pressures and durable exterior color options.”

This article is a sidebar to an article prepared by Ric Jackson at Quanex Building Products, examining coming changes in the Energy Star Windows, Doors and Skylights program. 

MI Windows’ foresight is paying off as builders and developers evolve into a greener way of thinking. In the six months since launching its new product line, the company has scored a number of high-profile new construction projects and the interest continues to grow. “The new Energy Star requirements for windows are still a year and a half to two years away, but so are the completion dates for many projects and developments that are being specified now,” DeSoto reports. “When you ask a builder or architect if they want to build homes using technologies that will be obsolete by the time they are finished, they really listen. Most opt to adopt tomorrow’s technology today–giving them a great marketing tool and the competitive edge.”

DeSoto foresees Energy Star as here to stay as an important part of both the new construction and remodeling markets. “When investing in a home you intend to stay in, you want to make sure it’s the highest quality you can afford,” he concludes. “The Energy Star label is an added assurance that you are buying a high-quality product designed to give you the best performance for many years.”