Nov 02 2007
New products such as, bamboo flooring or structural insulated panels are making it possible to build healthier, greener homes.
Impact resistant windows are just one of the advances that can make a significant difference in protecting our homes.
Leaving your home vulnerable to hurricane force winds and other damaging conditions can affect the health and life span of your home.
In 2001, the South Florida Building Code addressed this issue and required that all exterior openings of a house have shutters attached or have impact resistant windows. This prevents debris from breaking windows and exposing the rest of the structure to water and wind causing issues such as mold and structural damage. Since mold can cause health issues and structural damage requires re-building, it makes sense to avoid these problems by installing impact resistant windows.
And because the South Florida Building Code will force many people to put shutters in place over existing windows or to replace them entirely with impact resistant windows it is important that they are readily available to consumers. To make them easy for consumers to identify, all impact resistant windows are marked with a grade that has been determined by the South Florida Building Code.
How Can a Window Resist 200 mph Winds?
There are two types of impact resistant windows. The first uses laminated glass, much like the windshield on your car. Laminated glass consists of two sheets of glass that, when broken, are held together by an anti-shatter film in the center. The anti-shatter film can come in various thicknesses and can also be tinted to reduce solar-heat gain or block UV rays that can damage to materials inside of your home. The film makes it nearly impossible for debris and water to pass through even when the glass is shattered.
The second type of impact resistant window is a standard window that has an anti-shatter film on the outside of the window. When the glass shatters the film acts similarly to laminate glass, but because the film is an “add-on” its effectiveness is not as great.
In both cases, the window’s ability to handle impact relies just as much on the frame as it does on the type of glass. Adding reinforcements and stiffeners to the frame (steel in particular) can increase the strength of a typical window frame so that high winds won’t rip the entire window assembly from the structure.
Making Them Efficient.
According to Energy Star, 50% of all windows sold in Florida in 2003 were impact resistant. Recognizing this demand, Energy Star felt it important that these windows also be available with the Energy Star label. Consumers should be able to choose a window that is not only impact resistant (as the Southern Florida Building Code requires), but also energy efficient. As with so many products and materials, Energy Star aims to keep up with new technologies so that energy efficiency can be integrated into new products. To learn more about the amendment proposed to the Department of Energy, click here.
The House as a Whole
Impact resistant windows are an important development for homes that frequently encounter hurricanes and strong storms. As new technologies emerge, it is important to ensure that as our home’s quality increases, so does its efficiency.