European Trends to Watch

Energy efficiency, color and size options dominate product introductions at fensterbau
Katy Devlin
May 26, 2014
Meetings & Events | Markets & Trends

Energy and environmental performance continue to dominate the European fenestration market, and in the past five to 10 years, green performance expectations have expanded beyond thermal performance to also include recyclability, sustainability and durability. Moves to develop life cycle assessments and environmental product declarations are driving this trend in North America as well, said exhibitors at the 2014 fensterbau/frontale event in Nuremberg, Germany.

“Questions about recyclability and durability weren’t being asked five years ago,” said Mark Silverberg, president of Technoform North America. “We’re now looking at a more holistic approach to performance that includes thermal and water performance, in addition to environmental and sustainability performance.”

The European window and door industry is producing products that meet these increasing product expectations, driven by more stringent codes and programs such as Passive House. To achieve the high thermal performance goals, manufacturers are looking to triple glazing and better-performing profiles.

“In Europe and Germany, energy savings and going green started 10 years ago, and was supported by the government. Windows are behind in the United States,” said Christian Feldmann, sales manager Asia, Africa and North America, for aluplast. For example, “triple-glazed insulating glass units are more common than double-glazed in Europe,” he said. The distinction was obvious on the show floor, as exhibitors primarily showed products with triple glazing that touted very low U-factors.

To accommodate the larger IGUs, European profiles are becoming wider. A 70-millimeter profile depth is fairly standard in the United States, while European frame depths are 76 mm and wider, according to exhibitors. During the show, manufacturers introduced wide systems of 80 mm and 82 mm for windows, and 85 mm and 88 mm for doors. The wider profiles can also allow for additional chambers to improve thermal performance, and additional weather seals to prevent water intrusion.

Manufacturers are looking to bring European-style systems with wider profiles to North America. “We see positive growth in having larger profiles in the U.S.,” said Steve Dillon, marketing director for Veka, on the show floor.

aluplast will launch its European-style products in the North American market as early as this summer, said Frank LaSusa, U.S. business manager for the company. “We will display systems in the U.S. that specialize in LEED, Passive House and other performance standards. That is our primary focus,” he said.

As life cycle becomes a more major concern, manufacturers are focusing on product recyclability as well. European window manufacturers are leaders in post-consumer recycling, said Hariolf Jung, managing director for Hamos Advanced Separation Technologies, a supplier of recycling systems for PVC. “Manufacturers in Europe are 10 years ahead of those in North America. All big window producers have such recycling systems,” Jung said. The company has a presence in North America, and is looking to grow market share as more U.S. window companies begin incorporating recycling into their processes, he said.

Also Trending 

Additional product trends on the show floor included larger door systems and more color options. During the show, many suppliers showed sliding door systems of 20 feet or more.
“In Europe, large lift and slide doors are popular,” said Tony Pauly, vice president and general manager for Ventana USA. “We offer 16-foot, 18- foot and 20-foot full slide systems. … This [trend] is coming to the U.S.”
The doors are popular in large residential patio applications, as well as light commercial, Pauly said.
As color trends shift and change, companies are offering a wider range of options for customers, which were clearly on display at the show. Part of this trend, particularly in the United States, is being driven by replacement and renovation, said David Harris, product manager, Renolit Exterior. “Many of the vinyl windows that were installed three decades ago are now being replaced. Homeowners are taking the opportunity to use color in their replacement windows,” he said.

Windows and Doors

    Inline Fiberglass is helping to introduce fiberglass to the European window market. Pictured is the Boavista window with Inline extrusions.
 Large sliding door systems were very popular on the show floor. Aluplast showed a large door system, the Lift-and-Slide Door 85mm, which will be coming to the U.S. market.
   YKK AP also displayed a large door system, the Easy Motion.
 Energy efficiency, durability and sustainability drive R&D at Technoform, according to company officials. During the show, the company displayed results of these R&D efforts: bio-based insulating strips, pictured, in green.


Colors and Cladding

Companies are offering a wider range of color options for window and door customers. During the show, Renolit promoted its color options for both residential and commercial applications. In the United States, an increase in window replacement is driving the color trend, company officials said.
 Metallic colors are trending for commercial applications. To meet market demands, Konrad Hornschuch introduced its Alux line, which simulates the look of powder coating.
 Companies are also looking to show what is now possible with colors. Several promoted reds that would resist fading, and dark colors that would resist absorption and warping due to heat. Accoya showed the pictured black-coated window that will resist expansion and shrinkage due to temperature changes.


Machinery, equipment and software

    Trending in machinery: more automation and faster welding. At the URBAN Machinery booth the exhibitor displayed a high-speed welder for PVC.
 Popular at the Sturtz Marchinery Inc. booth was an automatic sorting system. “Our North American customers are very interested in incorporating an automatic sorting system into their facility,” said Ellis Dillen, president and CEO. “It allows a manufacturer to stage the glass to use as they need it.”
 A+W introduced CANTOR: integrated, comprehensive software for window and door companies. The software is available to the North American market.
 elumatec showed multiple equipment lines at the show, and unveiled the SPZ-137 ergonomically designed 4-axis profile machining center.
 Bystronic glass and partner company HEGLA showed a range of handling equipment, including lifters, profile storage systems, truck racks and harp racks. Pictured are Bystronic’s vacuum lifters that are capable of handling larger, heavier glass units.
 Opera demonstrated its suite of software for manufac turers, including its Job Management and Sprint Label software products.
 emmegi was running seven machines on the show floor, including its Integra Q1 for PVC frames.



Katy Devlin is senior editor of Glass Magazine, Window & Door's sister publication, also published by the National Glass Association.