Manufacturers Look to Bring European-style Systems to U.S. Market

Window & Door
April 1, 2014
Meetings & Events

The 2014 fensterbau/frontale trade show took place in Nuremberg, Germany, last week, where 796 exhibitors, including more than 300 international companies, gathered to show their products and machinery for windows, doors and facades.

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, exhibitors said.

“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.

aluplast will launch its 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.

Read about more trends, and see the products on display, in the fensterbau photo galleries. For additional product information, see the fensterbau/frontale product preview.
The next fensterbau/frontale is scheduled to take place in the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg March 16-19, 2016.