Window Preservation Standard Under Development

August 5, 2011
Meetings & Events

A National Window Preservation Summit was held in July in Pine Mountain, Ky., to review an initial draft set of standards for the repair, restoration, preservation and weatherization of historic wood and steel windows. The event was organized by the Window Preservations Standards Collaborative, a group started by five window restoration and repair specialists in conjunction with the Preservation Trades Network.

The summit gathered about 40 people from across the country, reports Robert Yapp, one of WPSC's founding members. In addition to window restoration tradespeople, the event attracted representatives of the National Park Service, city governments, preservation organizations and architects interested in preserving old windows.

 A video featuring WPSC organizers prior to the summit.

The event included demonstrations of restoration processes outlined in the draft standards, but much of the activity was focused on energy performance testing of restored and weatherized wood and steel windows, Yapp reports. One of the goals of the group is to show that restored old windows are competetive with new products on the energy efficiency front. There has been sporadic energy testing over the years and there's data scattered around the country, he states, but the collaborative hopes to establish unbiased, solid information and subject it to peer review.

"The primary focus of the organization and the standard is to establish repair and restoration as a practical alternative," Yapp states. There is significant documentation associated with new windows and how they will perform, he notes. Because there has been no real data for window restoration, "there is often a bias against considering such an option," he explains.

On the energy performance front, the objective is for the standard to present a menu of options and steps and expected outcomes to address differing needs and priorities, Yapp explains. Those can be different, depending on whether a property is a "museum" house or a "contributing" house in a historic neighboorhood with a family living in it, he adds.

A growing number of window restoration experts are emerging, Yapp continues, but he also suggests that window maintenance and repair represents a untapped business model in many parts of the country. Homeowners, architects and other property owners are increasingly interested in repair and weatherization of older windows. Having trained contractors on the techniques and skills involved, he says there is demand and the opportunity to create many jobs in this arena. 

Meanwhile, the WPSC website offers a dim view of the replacement window industry, but Yapp notes that those involved also recognize the legitimate role such products play in the market. "We just want a place at the table," he points out.

The preservation standard, which WSPC hopes will be ready to publish as a book by early 2012, is designed to help accomplish that. It will help those interested in this segment by detailing best practices in the field for assessing, maintaining, repairing and restoring windows. It will also present the case for window restoration as "a viable alternative," Yapp concludes.