You are on page 1of 38


Best of
of Series

Part One
3 Accessibility of Operable Windows
By Steve Fronek, PE

Part Two
11 Designing and Simulating for Daylight
By Marc Trudeau, Architect AIBC, LEED AP

Part ἀ ree
20 High or Low-e?
Low-emissivity Coated Glass for Apartment Buildings
By George Torok, CET, BSSO

Part Four
27 Testing, Rating, and Specifying
Physical Performance with NAFS
By Adam Mantei

Part Five
32 How to Give Open-window Comfort
to Multi-storey Structures
By Michael P. Toohey

Published by
Kenilworth Media Inc.
15 Wertheim Court, Suite 710 Richmond Hill, Ontario L4B 3H7
Toll-free: 800-409-8688; (866) 572-5633; Fax: (866) 572-5677

ἀ e information and contents in this publication are believed by the publisher to be true, correct, and accurate, but no independent investigation has
been undertaken. Accordingly, the publisher does not represent or warrant that the information and contents are true, correct, or accurate, and
recommends that each reader seek appropriate professional advice, guidance, and direction before acting or relying on all information contained
herein. Opinions expressed in the articles contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher.

© 2017 Kenilworth Media Inc. All rights reserved.

Reἀecting on
Glazing Strategies

Part One
Accessibility of Operable Windows


Steve Fronek, PE, leads Wausau Window and Wall Systems’

product development, marketing, field service, technical support,
and general research. He is a past-president of the American
Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), and has
served on 60 of AAMA’s committees and task groups, including
guiding the evolution of thermal performance and accessibility
testing standards as they exist today. Fronek is a member of the Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory’s (LBNL’s) High-performance Building Façade Solutions
Public Advisory Committee and a LEED Green Associate. He can be contacted via
e-mail at

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 3

Accessibility of

Photos © Phil Weston Photos


ccessibility to fresh air and a connection to the operable window assemblies, including frame, infill,
outdoors for those with physical disabilities hardware, and all other appurtenances, required by
are especially important in skilled nursing and project specifications and/or applicable codes, to be
personal care facilities, multi-family dwellings, and accessible to and usable by people with such physical
hotels, along with classrooms and dormitories. To disabilities as the inability to walk, difficulty walking,
help ensure this access, windows capable of meeting reliance on walking aids, blindness and visual
operating force and motion requirements of impairment, deafness and hearing impairment, in
International Code Council/American National coordination, reaching and manipulation disabilities,
Standards Institute (ICC/ANSI) A117.1, Accessible lack of stamina, difficulty interpreting and reacting to
and Usable Buildings and Facilities, are being more sensory information, and extremes of physical size.1
commonly specified in the United States. This trend
can be expected to expand into Canada. In December 2013, Statistics Canada’s Canadian
In American Architectural Manufacturers Survey on Disability (CSD) found more than 11
Association (AAMA) 513-12, Standard Laboratory per cent of the country reported disabilities related
Test Method for Determination of Forces and Motions to pain, flexibility, or mobility—often all three
Required to Activate Operable Parts of CW and simultaneously—with more than one-quarter
AW Class Operable Windows, Sliding Glass Doors, classifying it as ‘severe’ in nature. Smaller percentages
and Terrace Doors in Accessible Spaces, accessible reported visual, auditory, or dexterity impairments.
window units are defined as: All percentages were significantly higher when

4 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

only groups over age 65 were considered. More
than 80 per cent of disabled persons used an
assistive device such as a wheelchair, arm support,
specialized computer, or hearing aid.
Accessibility as a general building design
concept has its roots in disciplines known
throughout the years as barrier-free, universal,
or inclusive design; other terms have included
‘design-for-all’ and ‘aging-in-place.’ For clarity,
the term ‘accessibility’ will be used in this article to
refer to any of these design protocols, recognizing
some differences in emphasis and design criteria
exist. Various protocols have placed more or less
emphasis on the use of operable windows.

Standards and laws in the United States

Before exploring considerations for operable
windows in this country, it is important to
understand the situation south of the border. Accessibility of operable windows has not been specifically addressed in the
National Building Code of Canada’s (NBC’s) barrier-free provisions, other than
Even in Canada, operable windows intended a general requirement in “Performance of Windows, Doors, and Skylights”
for use in accessible spaces are often mistakenly requiring they “are easily operable,” meeting the Canadian-only North
called ‘ADA windows.’ The Americans with American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) limits. Even when not required,
accessible operating windows may be a very desirable feature of the occupied
Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law, not a building spaces being designed, making it easier for everyone to enjoy the fresh air.
code, specification, or test method—as such,
it is missing many of the necessary technical 309 Operable Parts
requirements for compliance testing.
It is not the intention of this article to summarize 309.1 General. Operable parts required to be accessible
or interpret building code requirements or shall comply with Section 309.
enforcement provisions in Canada or in the
United States; rather, it draws attention to 309.3 Height. Operable parts shall be placed within one or
important design considerations and cites relevant more of the reach ranges specified in Section 308.
examples of best practices. Local authorities
having jurisdiction (AHJs) should be consulted in 309.4 Operation. Operable parts shall be operable with
determining applicability and in defining detailed one hand and shall not require tight grasping, pinching,
requirements for any given structure or space. or twisting of the wrist. The force required to activate
While more detailed requirements vary, all operable parts shall be 5.0 pounds (22.2 N) maximum.
U.S. references generally cite ICC/ANSI A117.1
for window operating forces and motions. It Recognizing the need for a repeatable, reproducible,
addresses three types of dwelling or sleeping and uniform test method, AAMA formed a task
units: Accessible, Type A, and Type B. All three cite group and developed AAMA 513-12 to fill the void.
Sections 308 and 309 of the standard. Operating Efforts are currently underway to have AAMA 513-12
parts of windows must comply in Accessible referenced as a compliance test method in the next
and Type A units, unless otherwise specified by version of ICC/ANSI A117.1.
local AHJs. Operating parts of windows need In addition to forces and motions, the specifier
not comply in Type B units, unless otherwise must ensure operable windows are located and
specified by local AHJs. As might be expected, detailed in a way that meets the ‘reach’ limitations of
Accessible and Type A units also ‘count’ as Type ICC/ANSI A117.1. (One typical diagram is shown
Bs, since they meet more stringent requirements. in Figure 1 [page 7]). Different height requirements
Surprisingly, requirements for operable parts apply to ‘obstructed’ and ‘front’ reach. There are also
of windows were first added to ANSI A117.1 in physical limits on clearances and protrusions, as well
1992, although a test method has never been as approach area and threshold height (for terrace
referenced. Paragraph 309 states: doors and sliding glass doors).

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 5

in hospital patient rooms are keyed, and intended for custodial

Images courtesy Wausau

Window and Wall Systems
or nursing staff operation only, since emergency ventilation
and egress is addressed by mechanical systems and automatic
smoke dampers. As yet, the special needs of staff members
with physical disabilities have not been addressed relative to
operable windows.

American National Standards Canadian codes and standards

Institute (ANSI) A117.1, For basic air, water, and structural performance of windows,
Accessible and Usable Buildings
doors, and skylights, the National Building Code of Canada
and Facilities, requires operable
parts be operable with one (NBC) 2010 version references the North American Fenestration
hand and without need for Standard (NAFS), which is developed and maintained jointly
tight grasping, pinching, or
by AAMA, Window and Door Manufacturers Association
twisting of the wrist.
(WDMA), and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) as
It is important to remember building codes represent only AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440-08.
minimum requirements. Even when not required, accessible Most requirements are harmonized between the United
operating windows may be a desirable feature of the occupied States and Canada, but a Canadian supplement adding
spaces being designed, making it easier for everyone to enjoy further requirements for snow loads, air exfiltration, product
the fresh air. marking, screen retention, and other prescriptive items has
ICC’s 2012 International Building Code (IBC) requires: been promulgated by CSA. In the Canadian-only sections of
NAFS, operating force maximums for most window types
Where operable windows are provided in rooms that are required to are less than U.S. operating force maximums for standard
be accessible in accordance with Sections 1107.5.1.1, 1107.5.2.1, gateway-size test units, accessibility notwithstanding.
1107.5.3.1, 1107.5.4, 1107.6.1.1, 1107., 1107. and NBC first addressed accessibility in a new clause in its
1107.6.4.1, at least one window in each room shall be accessible and Section 3 in 1985, affecting institutional buildings and those
each required operable window shall be accessible. used for assembly, as well as large residential, office, and retail
buildings. In general, apartment buildings were required to
For most condominiums, apartments, skilled nursing facilities, provide barrier-free access, but accessibility within individual
and hotels/motels, operable windows in Accessible and Type A residential suites was exempt from requirements unless
dwelling and sleeping units must comply. Operable windows mandated otherwise by AHJs. Single-family homes and other

NAFS Operating Force Limitations

Standard (NAFS), referenced in UNITED CANADA UNITED CANADA
the 2010 National Building Code
Hung Vertical, Report only 200 N 200 N 200 N
of Canada (NBC), sets different parallel-to-wall (45 lbf ) (45 lbf ) (45 lbf )
operating force limits for standard Horizontal Horizontal, Report only 90 N 115 N 45 N
CW and AW Performance Class Sliding parallel-to-wall (20 lbf ) (26 lbf ) (10 lbf )
windows. There are inherent Roto-operated Perpendicular Report only 60 N 45 N 30 N
differences between window types. Casement or to crank (14 lbf ) (10 lbf ) (7 lbf )
Hung, horizontal sliding, roto-
Hand-operated Horizontal, Report only 70 N 135 N 45 N
operated casement or projected, Casement or normal- (16 lbf ) (50 lbf ) (10 lbf )
hand-operated casement or Projected to-wall
projected, and sliding glass door Sliding Glass Horizontal, 180 N 135 N 115 N 90 N
types are shown at right. Door parallel- (40 lbf ) (30 lbf ) (26 lbf ) (20 lbf )
Operating force tests are conducted on large ‘gateway-size’ window units.

6 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

smaller residential buildings were also exempt. Figure 1
In 2005, when NBC moved to an objective-
based format, accessibility became one of its
four main objectives, to ensure disabled persons
the freedom to access and circulate within a
building, and use the buildings facilities.2
The current NBC does not require barrier-
free or accessible design for all residential units,
but contains requirements to be applied in cases
where the AHJ designates such criteria.3 These
accessibility requirements most commonly apply In addition to forces and motions,
to large, multi-storey residential buildings, hotels, specifiers must ensure operable
windows are located and detailed
skilled care facilities, and dormitories. in a way that meets the ‘reach’
The majority of Canadian provinces set a limitations of ICC/ANSI A117.1.
minimum number (or percentage) of residential Different height requirements
apply to ‘obstructed’ and ‘front’
units required to be designed for accessibility, or reach. An example of a typical
that can be adapted for accessibility. In some diagram is shown here.
provinces, these minimums apply only to publicly
funded projects, while in others privately funded
Some Canadian provinces and
projects are also affected. Applicability to municipalities have adopted more
renovations versus new construction also varies stringent window-specific standards
by jurisdiction. Several Canadian municipalities or guidelines for accessibility and
barrier-free design. In Toronto,
have raised the bar still higher, setting mandatory for example, lever-style window
accessibility requirements, or recommending hardware should be mounted
design and construction standards over and above within reach—this means lower
than 1065 mm (42 in.).
provincial building codes.
Accessibility of operable windows has not
been specifically addressed in NBC’s barrier-free
provisions, other than a general requirement in preferences, pose challenges for the product
“Performance of Windows, Doors, and Skylights” designer striving for broad market applicability
requiring they “are easily operable,” meeting the of a tested system. It is also important to
Canadian-only NAFS limits noted above, and in remember lowered sill height to allow for views
the table on page 6. However, some Canadian and hardware operation from a wheelchair may
provinces and municipalities have adopted require the addition of fall prevention guards
more stringent window-specific standards or or limited opening devices. This, in turn, can
guidelines for accessibility and barrier-free affect the use of operable windows as routes of
design. Again, local AHJs should be consulted in egress in un-sprinklered buildings.
determining applicability and defining detailed
requirements for any given structure or space. Alberta
For Standata Building Code Interpretation−
Provincial and municipal accessibility Adaptable Dwelling Units (Alberta Municipal
standards and guidelines Affairs and Housing [MAH], 2008), non-
Various window-specific standards and guidelines mandatory best practices include providing
adopted by provinces and municipalities— windows with a sill height of less than 865 mm
mandatory or non-mandatory—include, but are (34 in.) and easy-to-use operating devices
not limited to, the following illustrative examples, requiring no tight grasping or twisting of
paraphrased for brevity. (It is important to ensure the wrist.
updated requirements are being followed as
regulations are regularly revised) British Columbia
The non-uniformity of these standards and To ensure view and connection to the outdoors
guidelines, while presumably responsive to local from a wheelchair, British Columbia Office of

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 7

sight. Lever-style window hardware should be mounted within
reach, lower than 1065 mm (42 in.). Windowcovering controls
should also be mounted low.

New construction or renovation of city-owned or -operated
buildings is covered by the 2010 City of Winnipeg Accessibility
Design Standard. Wheelchair side reach allowances are set that
are different than the aforementioned B.C. ones and from
those shown in ICC/ANSI A117.1.
Large expanses of glass must be marked for the visually
impaired, and sill height maintained at 760 mm (30 in.) or
less for view. Window opening hardware must be mounted
between 400 and 1200 mm (15 and 47 in.) above the floor, and
allow one-hand operation without tight grasping, pinching, or
twisting of the wrist.
In the Canadian-only sections of NAFS, operating force maximums
for most window types are less than U.S. operating force maximums
AAMA 513-12: test method and specifications
for standard gateway-size test units, accessibility notwithstanding.
The purpose of the AAMA 513-12 laboratory test method is
Housing and Construction Standards’ 2007 Building Access to demonstrate a given window unit, as designed, is capable
Handbook requires windows in common areas should have a of being operated with forces and motions consistent
sill height less than 750 mm (29.5 in.). Both operable window with ICC A117.1 limitations, if properly installed, adjusted,
hardware and windowcovering (e.g. drapes and blinds) and maintained.
controls should be located within wheelchair-accessible height Operation of any window includes four actions:
and reach, and usable by those with limited use of their hands. • unlocking or unlatching;
Interestingly, different reach limitations are defined for adult • opening the sash or vent;
males, adult females, and children in wheelchairs, none of • closing the sash or vent; and
which are the same as those shown in ICC/ANSI A117.1. • locking/latching.
All four actions must meet accessibility requirements for force,
Nova Scotia motion, and reach, and be performed using one hand.
Under the 2011 Nova Scotia Building Code Regulations, Tests are run on large CW and AW Class gateway-size windows.
Schedule C−Barrier-Free Design, the accessibility requirements NAFS defines the former as:
apply to a broad spectrum of building types, and controls for
the “operation of building services or safety devices” must commonly used in low-rise and mid-rise buildings where larger
be accessible. sizes, higher loading requirements, limits on deflection, and heavy
use are expected.
The Ontario Building Code (OBC) requires windows open to It defines AW Class windows as:
the outdoors in certain occupancies. Updated accessibility
requirements in the provincial code became effective January commonly used in high-rise and mid-rise buildings to meet increased
1, 2015. loading requirements and limits on deflection, and in buildings where
frequent and extreme use of the fenestration products is expected.
For the 2004 City of Toronto Accessibility Design Guidelines, By grouping accessibility testing of “hardware and weather
accessible design must be: seal packages,” used across a range of individual products, one
test assembly can qualify multiple individual products.
non-institutional and successfully integrated with a building’s function, AAMA 513 is a useful laboratory test method, eliminating the
form, and architectural quality. variables of wind and weather that could affect operating force
onsite, as well as addressing critical issues such as sampling,
Balconies must be usable throughout the year by seniors and measurement precision, test equipment, methodology, and
persons with disabilities. Window sill height should be less than inspection. As previously noted, efforts currently are underway
760 mm (30 in.), and transoms located out of the seated line-of- to add reference to AAMA 513-12 in ICC/ANSI A117.1.

8 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

Some manufacturers’ accessible windows perform the same
as standard operable windows, with no reductions in air,
water, thermal, or structural performance necessary. However,
AAMA 5113-12 allows some leeway, given the low locking
forces and friction that are required in order to keep forces
below 22.2 N (5 lbf). As noted in AAMA 513:

For accessible units, certain “reductions” in air infiltration, water

resistance performance requirements shall be permitted, when
compared to conventional CW and AW Class testing, given the
desirability of minimizing operating forces.

Air Infiltration: 1.5 times the maximum air infiltration specified in

AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440, for the type and class tested is
allowed but no greater than 1.0 l/s/m2 (0.2 cfm/sf ) at 75 Pa (1.57 psf ).

Water Resistance: …conduct [AW Class] water resistance testing at …

Requirements for operable parts of
20% of inward acting design pressure for the project for AW Class, but windows were first added to ANSI A117.1
not less than … 390 Pa (8 psf ). in 1992, although a test method has never
been referenced. Efforts currently are
underway to have American Architectural
Design Wind Pressure: Design loads shall be based on project Manufacturers Association (AAMA) 513-12,
requirements, or a minimum of … 1920 Pa (40 psf ) for AW products Standard Laboratory Test Method for Determination of
(whichever is greater). Forces and Motions Required to Activate Operable Parts of
CW and AW Class Operable Windows, referenced as a
compliance test method in its next version.
The AAMA publication offers the following language for
specifiers’ use:
Hung windows require the occupant to lift the sash to open it,
Accessibility: As indicated on architectural drawings, one operable as well as to apply added force to overcome friction of weather-
window in each occupied space shall meet the operating force limits seals. Counter-balancing devices may not provide adequate force
and motion restrictions of ICC/ANSI A117.1 Section 309.4, when tested assistance to get large windows to operate at less than 22 N
by an AAMA-accredited lab in accordance with AAMA 513-12. [Specifier’s (5 lbf). Similarly, operation of horizontal sliding sash requires
Note: All code-required operable windows in a given occupied space both inertia and weather-seal friction to be overcome. This can
may be required to meet these restrictions.] limit the applicability of manually operated hung and sliding
windows in accessible spaces under ICC/ANSI A117.1 limits.
Product design It is important to keep in mind motorized and mechanical
It should not be expected standard, off-the-shelf operable operators have long been available for almost any window
windows can be adjusted to meet accessibility requirements, type; single- and double-hung, horizontal sliding, parallel-
even when properly located in plan and section. Especially opening, or dual action; as well as the projected vents addressed
on large windows, achieving ease of operation with restricted previously in this article. As long as forces and motions
motion will likely require specially designed compression necessary to activate and operate motorized and mechanical
weatherseals and low-friction hardware components. features meet the requirements of ICC/ANSI A117.1, these
Hardware must be selected that ensures windows do not fall may be deemed accessible operator types.
shut under their own weight, or require two hands to hold The use of insect screens may limit accessibility options
closed and lock simultaneously. for certain vent modes and hardware packages. Typically,
Project-out awning vents cannot usually be manually controls and cords for blinds, drapes, or shades are not
operated due to the requirement for hold-open friction. Out- required to be accessible.
swing casement vents cannot be hand-operated due to the
requirement for one-hand operation. Roto-operators can be Reach diagrams
provided for both of these vent types, and provide mechanical One must locate and detail operable windows in a way that
advantage to overcome friction and help lift the weight of meets the ‘reach’ limitations of ACC/ANSI A117.1. One
glazing infill. Project-in hopper vents require glass to be lifted, typical diagram is shown in Figure 1 (page 7). Different height
and typically are not fitted with roto-operators. requirements apply to ‘obstructed’ and ‘front’ reach. There are

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 9

space must be provided on the balcony, and on the latch side of
Photo © BigStock/Photo/Wavebreak Media Ltd.

the door. Swinging terrace door thresholds must not exceed 13

mm (1⁄2 in.) in height and must be bevelled, requiring careful
design to avoid compromising weatherability in high-rise
applications. In the interest of weather-ability, some leeway is
provided for sliding glass door sill height in certain AHJs.
In the United States, for units required to be accessible,
terrace and patio doors must comply with ICC/ANSI A117.1
Section 404. This includes:
• reach limitations;
• one-hand operation without grasping, pinching, or twisting
of the wrist; and
• maximum 22.2 N (5 lbf) of operating force to open and
close, not including latching hardware.
The Chicago Building Code has increased the operating
The Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) found more than 11 per cent force requirement to 38 N (8.5 lbf). This is consistent with
of the country have disabilities related to pain, flexibility, or mobility.
the force requirement referenced in NBC for doors along a
also physical limits on clearances and protrusions, as well as barrier-free path of travel not subject to air pressure drops.
approach area and threshold height (for terrace doors and Door closer manufacturers offer accessible options that limit
sliding glass doors). force-to-open and closing lag time. Ninety-degree thumb-
turn locks typically are made standard on manufacturers’
Installation and maintenance swinging terrace doors for compliance.
Production-line testing of operating force can help ensure Additionally, along accessible routes, threshold height is
windows leaving the factory are complaint with AAMA 513-12 limited. A 930-mm (32-in.) minimum width, turning/approach
requirements. Accessible operating window products require area, and low protrusion limits, as well as requirements for kick
additional care in installation, final adjustment, and maintenance plates on swing doors also apply.
to achieve and maintain compliance. Plumb, square, and level Code requirements notwithstanding, accessible terrace and
installation is critical. Building settlement can affect operating patio doors may be a desirable feature of the spaces being designed,
forces, and necessitate post-installation adjustment. making it easier for all occupants to enjoy balcony spaces, with
Standard operable windows cannot always be adapted to easily operable door panels and lower-profile thresholds.
achieve accessibility at a later date. The fieldwork necessary
vary widely with application and window type. Adaptation may Conclusion
be as simple as hardware adjustment, or virtually impossible Whether or not required by code, accessible operating
without complete reconfiguration of window openings and windows may be a desirable feature of occupied spaces in
surrounding conditions. If adaptability is desired, the design skilled nursing and personal care facilities, multi-family
team is strongly encouraged to develop a window accessibility buildings, hotels, classrooms, and dormitories. Accessible
plan early in the design process, then detail and specify operating windows help ensure fresh air and a connection
products accordingly. with the outdoors are made accessible to people with physical
disabilities. Product development and compliance testing
Terrace and patio doors efforts at most manufacturers are underway, to provide a broad
The same subcontractor that provides windows often selection of accessible window types, both manually operated
provides doors for access to balconies, terraces, and patios; and motorized.
however, accessibility requirements for doors are somewhat
more complex than for windows. Canadian provinces and Notes
municipalities adopt more stringent standards and guidelines 1
The portion in italics comes from ICC/ANSI A117.1.
than the NBC for terrace and patio doors, just as with windows. 2
For more, visit and search
Where such balcony access requirements are adopted, for “NBC Objective: Accessibility,” which was published in
minimum clear width typically is set at 760 to 800 mm (30 to November of 2012.
31.5 in.), kick plates need to be provided, easy-to-operate 3
This comes from a 2011 article, “Housing Accessibility
hardware located at an accessible height, and closers must limit Regulation in Canada,” by Rowena Moyes for Canadian Home
opening force as well as closing lag time. Adequate manoeuvring Builders Association.

10 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

Reἀecting on
Glazing Strategies

Part Two
Designing and Simulating
for Daylight


Marc Trudeau, Architect AIBC, LEED AP BD+C, is a building

performance consultant at Stantec. He focuses mainly on
strategies to achieve energy and sustainability targets for
buildings. Trudeau contributes to projects through energy
modelling for design assistance and standards compliance,
daylighting simulations, and life cycle assessment studies.
He has been a LEED accredited professional since 2003, and is a reviewer
for Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED) submissions. Trudeau can be reached via email

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 11

Designing and Simulating

for Daylight
Images courtesy Stantec

he benefits of daylight are well-documented. For Daylighting is emphasized in green building
building occupants, it offers a range of positive standards, such as the Leadership in Energy and
physiological effects, which, in turn, translates Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.
into tangible benefits such as higher productivity, Daylight targets based on LEED are even being
reduced employee sick time, improved employee included as requirements for projects not pursuing
morale, and lower lighting costs for businesses. certification. In this author’s own work, an increase
Building occupants, owners, and policy-makers in the Canadian public-private partnership
are increasingly aware of these benefits and are (P3) projects specifying daylight performance
asking for buildings to be well-lit by natural light. thresholds has been seen. These are clear indicators
Daylighting design and simulation is the way to to the rising importance of daylight in design.
make this happen—to quantifiably understand LEED v4 allows for credit using Illuminating
how light enters a building and to determine how Engineering Society’s (IES) metric for measuring
to achieve the project’s daylight goals. daylight sufficiency, employing spatial daylight

12 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

autonomy (sDA) and annual sunlight exposure Figure 1
(ASE). LEED also allows for compliance using
illuminance simulation and field measurement.
While the field measurement is relatively
straightforward to implement, credit achievement
cannot be determined until the project is built and
occupied. Daylight simulation allows immediate
feedback during an iterative design process and
gives the project team flexibility to evaluate the
interaction between daylighting, and building
energy performance targets. The sDA daylight
target is new in LEED v4, though, so it is unclear to
many in the building industry how challenging this
will be for buildings in Canada.1

Benefits and challenges Interior rendering with overhead skylight.

Daylight and windows offer numerous positive As well, the operational cost benefits to a hospital
effects for occupant well-being and building could be substantial.
performance relating to: Balanced against these benefits, daylight and
• circadian rhythms (high light levels promote windows also bring design challenges and can
alertness and help control the sleep-wake cycle);2 cause negative effects:
• connecting occupants with outdoors; • glare (i.e. visual discomfort caused by the high
• reducing electric lighting use; light contrast);
• solar heating (i.e. reduced need for building • excessive solar gains (i.e. increased need for
space heat); building space cooling);
• quality views; • sound and room acoustic issues;
• beauty of light and shadow; and • distracting views; and
• colour quality and visual appeal. • privacy concerns.
Several research studies have looked at the benefits In the design phase, the benefits and challenges of
of daylight to specific building types and occupant windows need to be evaluated using design tools and
groups. In one study, hospital patients in rooms expertise. Daylight consultants can use simulations
with more sunlight reported less pain and stress to quantify glare and the amount of daylight entering
and took 22 per cent less analgesic medications, a space, using tools such as interior renderings and
resulting in a 21 per cent reduction in medication illuminance analyses. Energy consultants can use
costs.3 In another study, comparing office and call- energy models to estimate the savings from electric
centre workers with best views to those with none, light use and determine the appropriate balance
calls were processed six to 12 per cent faster and between helpful solar heating and detrimental solar
occupants performed 10 to 25 per cent better on gains. Acoustic consultants can give guidance on
tests of mental function and memory recall.4 strategies to manage sound and room acoustics.
Daylight research studies such as these are Finally, architectural designers must bring all this
challenging to do well because there are many information together, giving careful thought to the
variables and results are often based on subjective form and materiality of the project to create an
human responses. Therefore, the methods and results inspiring result.
of these studies need to be considered critically.
Finding relevant and carefully done research is Daylight metrics
worth the effort because occupant well-being gets There are several metrics for quantifying the
to the purpose of why buildings exist. Continuing amount of daylight in a space.
with the example of medication costs within a
hospital, the benefit to patient well-being will Illuminance
be extremely important because it relates to the Measured in lux (foot-candles), illuminance
facility’s fundamental role in improving health. indicates the amount of light falling on a surface.

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 13

Figure 2

Illuminance plan
showing lux levels
at the floor at two
times of day.

The illuminance value does not depend on surface daylight illuminance at a work-plane to a minimum
properties, though surface properties are important requirement. Annual sunlight exposure, combined
to understand how much light is reflected and seen with daylight autonomy as defined in IES LM 83-12,
by the eye. Approved Method: IES Spatial Daylight Autonomy
The amount of suitable illuminance varies greatly and Annual Sunlight Exposure, is a measure of visual
depending on factors such as age of the viewer and discomfort and is the percentage area where the
task. For example, an art gallery with a light-sensitive direct sunlight exceeds a maximum illuminance.
collection may keep light to around 50 lux (4 fc)
to reduce degradation, while a workstation in a Daylight glare probability
laboratory requiring precision tasks might require The daylight glare probability indicates if the light
1500 lux (140 fc). Typical office environments target levels get too high and could cause uncomfortable
light levels around 300 lux (27 fc). contrast for occupants within the space.

Daylight factor Simulation tools

The daylight factor indicates the percentage ratio At the core of simulation software are the algorithms
of indoor daylight illuminance to the outside that calculate light levels and render images.
illuminance. This is calculated at a single point Radiance, developed by the U.S. Lawrence Berkeley
location, and can then be calculated for a room as an National Laboratories (LBNL), is one such software;
average of daylight factors for multiple points in the it is used as part of a number of other front-end
room. Actual illuminance varies depending on cloud software packages to do lighting calculations.
cover and position of the sun—therefore, daylight Radiance uses a combination of direct path ray tracing
factor provides an indicator of the amount of natural as well as Monte Carlo sampling of other directions
light in a space, irrespective of weather. where light might come from. The calculations start
at a measurement point and trace light back to the
Spatial daylight autonomy emitting sources. Several light paths are considered:
sDA is the percentage area meeting a minimum • direct light;
lux level throughout the year. This metric is • specular (i.e. directional transmit/reflect from
calculated using local weather data, and it compares surfaces and glass); and

14 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

Figure 3

This glare simulation,

with and without
shading devices, was
taken from the point
of view of a person
that is seated at a
workstation with an
adjacent window.

• diffuse (i.e. scattered light off surfaces and glass lux illuminance values within a space. Perspective
with no directional preference). images are useful to visualize how the light will be seen
In preparing a daylight model, there are several key by occupants, and to see what surfaces will be in light
steps to the workflow: or shadow.
1. First, the model geometry is built using 3D drawing
software. Illuminance plan
2. Material and surface properties are assigned, An illuminance plan is typically used to study
including glass visible light transmittance (VLT) illuminance at either a working plane or the floor
and surface reflectance properties (e.g. wall, ceiling, level. The results shown in Figure 2 (page 14) are lux
floor, ground, roof). levels at two different times of day. The results would
3. Simulation parameters are set, for example, based be helpful in quantifying what area of the floorplate
on simulation standards such as IES LM 83-12. is above a lux threshold such as for a LEED target, for
Considerations include: understanding what workstations are receiving light,
• number of light bounces; and for understanding how deep light travels into
• grid size; the room.
• sky condition (e.g. overcast/clear); and
• time of day. Glare probability analysis
Daylight models can be used to provide a number Daylight models can be used to estimate likelihood
of analytical results and images that are useful to a of glare and allow testing of different glare-control
design team. Some commonly used outputs from devices such as internal shades. In Figure 3, a sample
daylight simulation software are described below. view is shown from the point of view of a person
seated at a workstation with an adjacent window.
Illuminance perspective images The simulation was run to test the likelihood of glare
An example illuminance perspective is shown in within this field of view. The results without shades
Figure 1 (page 13). Renderings such as these show (top image) indicate there are times with intolerable

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 15

glare (red and yellow), particularly from low sun angles
Figure 4
in winter. By allowing shades to be closed whenever
Image from Atlas of Canada, 3rd edition (1957)

there is bright light (bottom image), the amount of

intolerable glare can be significantly reduced.

Daylight Standards in LEED

As LEED is the most commonly used green building
standard in North America, the daylight calculation
thresholds it defines play a large part in setting a
standard for Canadian projects. There are options
to achieve the daylighting credit under Indoor
Environment Quality (EQ) credit 8.1, Daylight
and Views−Daylight. The following is a summary
of daylight requirements and options available for
Canadian LEED projects.

LEED Canada NC 1.0

1. Daylight Factor > two per cent, based on a formula
provided in the LEED Reference Guide. The formula
This map shows the mean annual total hours of bright sunshine. can be completed using a spreadsheet analysis.
2. Simulation Path: Achieve > 250 lux (25 fc) in 75
Figure 5 per cent of regularly occupied spaces in a clear sky
condition at noon on June 21.
Images courtesy Stantec

LEED Canada 2009

1. Prescriptive Path: 0.15 < VLT x window-to-floor
ratio (WFR) < 0.18.
2. Onsite Measurement: Achieve > 108 lux (10 fc)
and < 500 lux (46 fc) in 75 per cent of regularly
occupied spaces.
3. Simulation Path: Achieve > 108 lux and < 500 lux
in 75 per cent of regularly occupied spaces in a
clear sky condition at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on March
21/September 21. (Per LEED Credit Interpretation
Request [CIR] 934, the minimum lux target was
reduced from 250 to 108 lux.)

Parameter Input Value

Exterior glass visible transmittance 65 per cent 1. Illuminance Simulation: 300 to 3000 lux (27 to
Ceiling internal reflectance 70 per cent 280 fc), 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
2. Onsite Measurement: 300 to 3000 lux.
Wall internal reflectance 50 per cent
3. Spatial Daylight Autonomy and Annual Sunlight
Floor internal reflectance 20 per cent Exposure.
Outside ground 10 per cent The simulation path for sDA and ASE is new in LEED
Ambient bounces six v4, and it follows simulation procedures defined in
standard IES LM 83-12. The credit threshold is based
Ambient division 1000
on 55 per cent of eligible floor area (2 points) and
75 per cent of area (3 points). ‘Eligible floor area’ is
Geometry of modelled office space. For daylight simulation results in each defined as the percentage of floor area with > 300 lux
cardinal direction, this geometry is rotated so the window is facing the
respective direction. Daylight simulation parameters were set up following
for 50 per cent of time annually between 8 a.m. and
Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) LM 83-12, Approved Method: IES 6 p.m. Annual sunlight exposure must be < 10 per cent
Spatial Daylight Autonomy and Annual Sunlight Exposure. of floor area, and it is defined as the area with > 1000

16 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

Figure 6 These simulations determine daylight levels for
a typical office environment with a maximized
window size, not including any other specific
Location Latitude (°N)
design strategies to improve daylight such as
Inuvik 68 light shelves, light-reflecting blinds, skylights, or
Whitehorse 60 clerestory windows.
Edmonton 53 The simulated office space is 10 m wide by 10 m
Vancouver 49 deep by 2.7 m high (33 x 33 x 9 ft), and located
at grade. A depth of 10 m from the window
Toronto 43
represents four typical workstations each of
San Francisco 38
depth 2.5 m (8 ft). A width of 10 m means there
is some effect from light reflecting off walls, but
Simulation locations and latitude.
the results are expected to be more representative
lux for 250 hours in the year. Simulations are run of an open office than a small, enclosed office.
using typical meteorological year data. A ceiling height of 2.7 m was chosen to represent a
The effect of external fixed shades and internal typical office space height. Glazing starts at 0.8 m
blinds is handled differently between sDA (2 ½ ft) above finished floor (AFF), representing
and ASE. The former includes benefit of both a sill height at desk level, and continues up to the
fixed shades and operable blinds, and blinds ceiling. No external fixed shades are included.
are assumed to close when >2 per cent of area This office space is simulated four times in each
receives direct sunlight (>1000 lux [92 fc]). location, with the window rotating to face north,
The latter includes fixed shades, though not east, south, and west.
operable blinds. This means that if many spaces LEED v4 requires that glare-control devices
have high ASE and associated glare risk, the ASE be included in sDA simulations. They are to be
cannot be reduced with blinds. Rather, ASE must activated whenever more than two per cent of the
be reduced by building geometry, using fixed analysis points receive direct sunlight, where direct
shades, or by facing regularly occupied spaces sunlight is defined as the condition when a beam
toward orientations that have less direct sunlight. of direct sunlight of more than 1000 lux is received
at the analysis point. There is a wide variety of
Daylight autonomy simulation glare-control fabrics, blinds, and shades available
As the LEED v4 standard is new, there is little on the market, each with unique light transmission
understanding in the industry of how challenging properties. In these simulations, blinds reflected
the sDA and ASE requirement will be for Canadian all direct sunlight and allowed only 25 per cent
projects, particularly those in latitudes that are of diffuse sunlight into the space—this is the
more northern. To give an indication of possible default dynamic shading model used in DIVA v3.0
sDA performance, simulation results are presented for LEED sDA simulations. Actual glare-control
here for locations with increasing latitude. products on any given project will have different
Since sDA is simulated using light levels properties than the simulations.
measured in a typical year, weather and latitude LEED v4 also requires furnishings be included
play a part in the available sunlight for daylight in sDA simulations, but they were excluded here
modelling (Figure 4, page 16). Weather in the as the research was focusing on the effect of
prairies allows for significantly more annual window orientation and project location. When
bright sunshine than on the West Coast. modelling for compliance with LEED v4, furniture
Simulations for daylight autonomy levels were layouts and reflectance characteristics can have a
run using DIVA-for-Rhino version 3.0 software significant effect on daylight performance. For
based on a generic office space across six locations example, tall partitions would prevent daylight
in North America. A prototypical office space from reaching into the space, and conversely,
(Figure 5, page 16) was created with windows on highly reflective work surfaces would allow
one façade. Four simulations were run at each daylight to reflect more deeply into the space.
location, for the window facing north, east, south, Simulations were run to calculate the sDA
and west. Locations were chosen at increasing values at each of the selected locations in Figure 6
latitudes as indicated in Figure 6. (page 17). The space was simulated with the

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 17

Figure 7 remove glare from direct sun and allow the blinds
to stay open longer.
LEED sDA values are similar in all locations (32
to 40 per cent) while the sDA with no shades has a
wider range (59 to 99 per cent)—this too indicates
the significant impact blinds have on sDA in south-
facing spaces.
Continuing to look at spaces with south-facing
windows, comparing the sDA without blinds as
one moves to more northern latitudes, the largest
reduction in sDA occurs in Inuvik, Northwest
Territories. Interestingly, Vancouver has a lower
value than Whitehorse and Edmonton, which are at
a higher latitude and consequently have less annual
sun-up time. This is because the sun drops to a
lower angle on the horizon, bringing light deeper
into the space. As well, Vancouver has a significant
amount of cloudy weather reducing the amount of
available daylight.
In spaces with north-facing windows, blinds
are rarely activated. Inuvik is the location with
the largest sDA reduction due to blinds and this is
because the town is above the Arctic Circle, with
Simulation results for percentage of floor area achieving spatial daylight
autonomy (sDA) targets with and without glare-control devices/blinds. sunlight occasionally coming from the north. The
sDA value without blinds generally drops as the
window facing to the four directions. This first set latitude increases.
of simulations included glare controls. In spaces with windows facing east and west,
Secondly, simulations were repeated with the the sDA values at all locations are within a few
same conditions, except without glare controls. percentage points of one another. The lowest
This gives an understanding of how much daylight sDA values are in Inuvik at 31 and 33 per cent,
is available at each location and orientation, compared to San Francisco at 50 and 52 per cent.
highlighting the effect of shades on limiting daylight. The locations between San Francisco and Inuvik do
Figure 7 shows the sDA values, or percentage of not follow a clear trend by latitude, which suggests
floor area receiving sufficient light annually. The sDA is significantly influenced by the weather.
number listed at each orientation indicates the sDA Generally, there is a noticeable reduction in the
value based on simulating the window facing that sDA daylit area in a typical office floor plate as one
orientation. Two sets of values are listed: moves north. This effect is most obvious for Inuvik,
• the shaded numbers indicate simulation a location beyond the Arctic Circle. In comparison
results with glare control as per LEED v4 sDA with a project in San Francisco, Canadian projects
requirements (with blinds); and need shallower floorplates to achieve the same
• unshaded numbers represent results without number of LEED daylight points.
glare control (without blinds). For spaces with windows facing south in all
For spaces with south-facing windows, all locations geographic locations, there is a lot of glare, so
showed a significant reduction in sDA because of control devices are frequently turned on per IES
glare control. This means there is a lot of glare and LM 83-12 requirements. Consequently, the light
the glare-control device is blocking a lot of light. properties of the glare-control device will be
Consequently, the choice of blind material will have important for design teams to consider. As well,
a significant impact on the amount of daylit area. results suggest there is opportunity to increase sDA
As well, these results suggest use of fixed external through use of fixed external shades, so the blinds
shading devices will be an effective strategy to do not need to be closed as often.

18 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

Figure 8

Project phase Energy model Daylight model: Problematic workflow Daylight model: Better workflow

Schematic design Preliminary “Not enough fee—wait until later” Preliminary guidance on floor plate
modelling based on depth, window area, strategy for light
building geometry control on each orientation, special
and percent window daylight controls (e.g. skylights, shades).
area This is followed by daylight simulation
of the schematic design geometry.

Construction Detailed modelling Detailed modelling with Detailed modelling with representative
documents based on final representative product reflectances: product reflectances: paint, ceiling tile,
assemblies and paint, ceiling tile, blinds, and glass blinds, and glass VLT.
product selection visible light transmittance (VLT).

Simulation results for percentage of floor area achieving spatial daylight autonomy (sDA) targets with and without glare-control devices/blinds.

Design process • provide incentive for teams to comply such as

The daylighting design process requires co-ordination explicit scoring related to meeting daylighting
with the team at key points in the project. The design performance and/or extra points for achieving
process follows a series of steps (schematic, design better performance.
development, and construction documents) where These steps are crucial for the owner and compliance
key decisions of increasing levels of detail are made team to understand what the daylight target is and how
and costed. important it is to the client. An aggressive daylight target
The process for energy modelling follows these same could require a narrower footprint, increased glazing
design phases. Where there is a design energy target, area, and additional elements for shading and glare
teams prepare preliminary models at the schematic control. The team needs to ensure the selected footprint
phase to give guidance on major systems, building depth can functionally work for the building occupants,
geometry, and window area percentage. This means can fit on the project site, and can work within overall
after schematic design, a change such as increasing cost and energy targets. Daylighting can bring great
the amount of window area can significantly penalize benefits to occupant well-being, and it needs to be fully
the project’s energy performance. included in the design process in order for anything
The daylight modelling process needs to follow other than ‘what usually happens’ to be built.
the design process, as well as co-ordinate with
decisions made on the energy model. As indicated in Notes
Figure 8, direction is needed on the daylight strategy 1
The article is adapted from the author’s presentation
at schematic design to have meaningful input to at the 2016 Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC)
the overall project’s daylight performance. By the National Conference, held in Toronto. It includes
construction documents phase, only minor changes daylight simulation results as presented at the eSim
are able to be made to increase daylight levels. 2016 Conference, held in Hamilton.
Design-build and P3 projects are increasingly 2
See J.M. Zeitzer et al’s Temporal Dynamics of Late-
including daylight targets as part of the project night Photic Stimulation of the Human Circadian
requirements. If the owner and compliance team are Timing System,” which appeared in the American
serious about achieving these daylight targets, there Journal of Physiology (2005).
are several important steps to follow: 3
See J.M. Walch et al’s article, “The Effect of Sunlight
• ensure that the indicative design will meet the on Post-operative Analgesic Medication Usage: A
daylight target; Prospective Study of Patients Undergoing Spinal
• include daylight simulation results of the indicative Surgery” in Psychosomatic Medicine (2005).
design for reference by the bidding teams; 4
To read the 2003 report, “A Study of Office
• include products/systems used for the indicative Worker Performance and the Indoor Environment:
design in pricing (items such as exterior fixed CEC PIER,” visit
shading, skylights, will affect cost); and summaries%20on%20daylighting.htm.

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 19

Reἀecting on
Glazing Strategies

Part ἀr ee
High or Low-e?
Low-emissivity coated glass for apartment buildings


George Torok, CET, BSSO, is a building science specialist and

member of the Façade Engineering Group at Morrison
Hershfield in Ottawa. He has more than 25 years of experience
in building envelope design and construction, performance
failure investigation and remediation, and specializes in
design and construction of new glazing systems and in repair,
upgrade, and replacement of existing glazing systems. Torok is active in the
development of Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards governing
design and installation of fenestration systems. He can be reached via
email at

20 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

High or
coated glass for
apartment buildings

n many large, urban areas of Canada, most
of the population lives in apartment buildings.
In the downtown core of cities like Toronto,
the proportion is up to 70 per cent.1 With the
current trend to intensify urban areas to limit
sprawl into surrounding valuable farmland, the
proportion of high-rise multi-family dwellers is
expected to increase.
Building owners, operators, and residents
in apartment buildings often report thermal
discomfort in the fall and, especially, spring.
This is due to the degree of solar radiation
exposure, which is highest in these seasons due
to a combination of low altitude and narrow
azimuth range that causes the sun’s rays to be
closer to normal (perpendicular) to the face
All images courtesy Morrison Hershfield

of window glass (low angle of incidence).

This results in maximum transmission to the
building interior.
The angle of incidence is increasing in the
spring and solar energy transmission is therefore
falling, but the discomfort is often worse than in
the fall because daytime hours are also on the rise.
Additionally, outdoor temperatures are typically
colder, so windows and exterior doors are closed
to keep out cold winter air.

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 21

When provided, cooling systems cannot
always operate at the same time as space heating
to provide relief. The thermal comfort of
apartment residents suffers, as does the sanity of
building owners and operators. Residents may
try to cope by venting excess heat through open
doors and windows or reducing solar gain by
covering windows with curtains, blinds, shades,
or aluminum foil. An apartment building with
many covered windows during a sunny day is
often indicative of a solar gain problem.
Energy use in residential apartment buildings
accounts for 16 per cent of total energy used by
Canadians and about 14 per cent of overall
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Space heating
accounts for 51 per cent of residential energy
What can be done to
control space heating use.2 Despite a 30 per cent increase in Canadian
and cooling costs? high-rise apartment households and condos
Anyone who has sat next in the current construction boom, the rate of
to a south-facing
window on a sunny day
growth of heating energy consumption has been
and again at night will modest—only about two per cent.3 This reflects
realize the solution. the increased energy efficiency requirements in
building codes (Figure 1).
Figure 1
Global warming, giving rise to milder winter
temperatures in many locations, has also helped
reduce space heating demand. However, it likely
adds to space cooling demand; while space cooling
energy usage is low, it is increasing rapidly—about
43 per cent in the same period.4 This also mirrors
the increasing use of highly glazed building
enclosures—window walls—that allow much
more solar gain than traditional designs.

Product solutions
What can be done to further control space
heating costs and rein in the rapid growth of
space cooling costs? Anyone who has sat next to
a south-facing window on a bright, sunny day
and again at night will realize there is an obvious
About half of energy usage in residential apartment buildings is for space heating. solution—improve the thermal performance
of window glass. This can be done by including
Understanding the problem glass that has a low-emissivity (low-e) coating—
Apartments with sunny exposures need space microscopically thin metal layers that reduces the
heating turned off early in the spring and turned glass’ ability to emit radiant heat energy from the
on late in the fall; apartments with less exposure inside to the outside and/or reduce the amount
need space heating turned off later in the spring of solar energy entering from outside to inside.
and turned on earlier in the fall. Typically, space These coatings are applied when the glass
heating systems are not zoned, with residents often is manufactured in large sheets, prior to
having only limited control over space heating to being shipped to insulating glass (IG) unit
compensate for solar radiation gain in condos and manufacturers or later, after uncoated glass
apartments with high solar gain. has been cut to size by the unit manufacturer,

22 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

Figure 2

These photos show the study apartment building in Ottawa. Superimposed are the positions of the sun at sunrise, noon, and sunset
during summer and winter solar solstices and the fall and spring solar equinoxes. Each unit was occupied by one resident.

before the units are assembled. For retrofit

projects, some low-e coatings are available on a
plastic sheet that can be applied to the room-side
surface of a unit later, after the completed glazing
is installed and the building is occupied.
The original type of low-e coating is the high-
solar-gain (HSG) type developed following the
Arab oil embargoes of the 1970s to improve the
energy efficiency of houses. This type allows high
amounts of solar gain, but restricts radiant energy
heat loss, so for windows with sunny exposure,
there is an overall net heat gain, reducing the
amount of space heating required.
These early low-e coatings also have high visual
In many large, urban
transparency—architects took advantage of this
areas of Canada,
to improve daylighting in commercial buildings. the majority of the
Unfortunately, the high solar gain sometimes population lives in
apartment or condo
created uncomfortably warm indoor conditions
and high space cooling loads. Low-solar-gain energy efficiency,
(LSG) low-e coatings were then developed to therefore, is critical
better control solar-gain-related cooling load, in because it can have a
wide-ranged impact.
commercial buildings.
In a double-pane IG unit, HSG low-e coatings Nature of the experiment
are most effective when placed on the outward In order to determine the effects of low-e glazing
facing surface of the inside pane of glass to reduce on resident comfort and energy use, an experiment
heat loss through the unit cavity and outboard was conducted on an apartment building owned
pane of glass. LSG low-e coatings would be most by Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation
effective when placed on outward-facing surface (CCOC) in Ottawa. The study was initiated by
of the outside pane of glass, but since almost all this author while at GRG Building Consultants,
such coatings are sensitive to moisture, they are and completed at Morrison Hershfield. Funding
located on the inward-facing surface, protected was provided through the Canada Mortgage
inside the unit cavity. and Housing Corporation (CMHC) External

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 23

Research Program and from Natural Resources
Canada (NRCan).5
Three southeast-facing, upper-level apartments
were selected as the subjects for this study. The
apartments were almost identical in layout, size,
and solar exposure (i.e. facing southeast), as shown
in Figure 2 (page 23). Each unit was occupied by
one resident with occasional guests. In two of
the apartments, windows and sliding doors were
refitted with low-e coated glass—one with HSG
and the other with LSG. In the third apartment,
the existing, uncoated glazing was left as is to act
as a ‘control’ against which performance in the
refitted apartments was compared.
Condo dwellers often report thermal discomfort in the fall and spring because of
the degree of solar radiation exposure hitting their windows. Each of the apartments was fitted with
equipment to track the interior air temperature
Figure 3 and relative humidity (RH) to gauge thermal
conditions. Incident solar radiation was
monitored at the exterior of the building and
transmitted solar energy was measured inside
each unit directly behind window glass with and
without low-e coatings.
Residents were interviewed for their perceptions
of thermal comfort. Further, the operation
of the apartments (e.g. position of window
coverings, windows and doors being open or
closed, thermostat settings) were observed on a
monthly basis to estimate effects on energy use.
(The apartments were not metered for energy
use so energy consumption was not measured.)
The experiment was conducted over a 12-month
period from September 2010 to 2011.

The findings
During the fall, when solar gain was increasing
and outdoor temperatures decreasing, perceived
comfort in the apartment refitted with the LSG
low-e coated glass improved. Meanwhile, during
warm and sunny periods, the residents of the
‘control apartment’ and the HSG low-e refitted
apartment experienced uncomfortably warm
conditions from time to time, which they relieved
by opening windows and doors.
In the winter, as solar gain reached yearly
maximum values but outdoor temperatures
The top graph shows the yearly plot of daily solar energy measured outdoors dropped further, the LSG low-e apartment
and inside the test apartments behind uncoated glass (i.e. control apartment),
resident continued to report improved thermal
high-solar-gain (HSG), and low-solar-gain (LSG) low-emissivity (low-e) coated
glass. The other graph plots solar energy received outdoors and indoors on a comfort. Residents of all apartments began setting
sunny winter day, when angles of incidence are minimal (close to the winter their thermostats higher. Those in the HSG and
solstice). All types of glass—uncoated glass, HSG, and LSG—reduce solar gain.
LSG low-e apartments had higher thermostats
Due to the southeast orientation of the apartments, peak solar gain occurs
late in the morning, before solar noon. settings than the control unit (Figure 3).

24 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

Figure 4

Plot of solar energy received outdoors and indoors

on a sunny spring day, when angles of incidence
are increasing (close to spring equinox). Peak solar
gain is slightly less than at winter solstice, but the
duration of solar gain is longer so the overall
amount of daily solar gain is about the same as at
the winter solstice. In the afternoon, there are
about three hours of very low gain, which is an
effect of building orientation—the sun is still
above the horizon, but not shining directly on the
southeast face of the building. The solar gain is
reflected from the sky (diffuse solar radiation).

As solar gain and outdoor temperature increased Figure 5

in the spring, thermostat settings were reduced in
all apartments. The resident of the LSG apartment
continued to report improved thermal comfort
whereas from time to time, on warm sunny days,
those in the ‘control’ and HSG apartments reported
discomfort, which they attempted to relieve by
opening windows and doors (Figure 4). In the
summer, solar gain reached yearly minimum values
with little variation between the apartments. All
residents reported uncomfortably warm indoor
conditions with no improvement compared to pre-
experiment conditions (Figure 5).
The study revealed using LSG low-e coated glass
in residential apartments with sunny exposure can Plot of solar energy received outdoors and indoors on a sunny summer day,
improve thermal comfort in the fall and winter, when angles of incidence are at maximum (close to summer solstice). Despite
but especially in the spring. However, this comes long daylight hours, peak solar gain at the lowest level all year. In the morning
and afternoon, there are periods of diffuse solar radiation.
at the expense of greater space heating usage. If
LSG low-e is used, compensating actions should Since the effectiveness of LSG low-e is linked to
be considered such as using: combinations of sun altitude and azimuth angle
• double- or triple-pane IG units; for which the resultant angle of incidence to the
• warm-edge spacers and argon or krypton gas glass is low, the study’s findings could be applied
fill; and to other building elevations. For example, in
• non-metal frames. this experiment solar gain was reduced in the
In the summer, there appears to be little benefit southeast-facing LSG apartment from mid-
to LSG and HSG low-e. Other means of reducing morning to early afternoon; southwest-facing
solar gain should also be considered, such as apartments would benefit from LSG low-e
exterior sun shades or perhaps dynamic glass throughout the afternoon. There would be little
(e.g. thermochromic or electrochromic glazing). benefit to LSG low-e in a north-facing window—
Reducing the amount of vision glazing should there, an HSG low-e would be a better choice
also be considered—after all, what benefit is a to control heat loss. East-facing windows could
window behind a couch? Smaller glazing areas benefit from LSG low-e in the early morning,
would also help in controlling fall, winter, and but HSG low-e may be more beneficial since
especially spring thermal discomfort since less morning temperatures are usually cooler and for
solar gain would occur and also because opaque most of the day there would be little direct solar
wall systems generally have lower rates of heat loss. energy (Figure 6, page 26).

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 25

Many low-e coatings have neutral appearances with little colour and low
visible light reflectance, enabling LSG and HSG coatings to be used on
different elevations without a difference in appearance.

Figure 6 The concept of ‘tuning’ each building façade to

suit solar exposure has long been advocated by
proponents of passive solar heating design. The
ability to do this now exists using modern HSG
and low-LSG technology.
Many low-e coatings have neutral appearances
with little colour and low visible light reflectance,
enabling LSG and HSG coatings to be used
on different elevations without difference in
appearance. Computer energy modelling software
such as EnergyPlus allows the design team to
quickly and efficiently determine the effect of LSG
and HSG low-e on building energy consumption
and indoor thermal conditions.
As building codes become more stringent, the
clever use of LSG and HSG low-e on different
elevations, zoning of space heating systems, and
provision of space cooling systems to allow the
indoor environment to be heated or cooled
appropriately in response to solar gain (and other
weather effects), and smarter use of the extent of
vision glazing and opaque wall areas will become
more important.

For more information, see Statistics Canada’s
Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006,
The top graph is a plot of solar heat gain co-efficient (SHGC) for uncoated, HSG, and
LSG low-e coated glass vs. angle of incidence. Between about 40 and 50 degrees (sun Population and Dwelling Counts, and individual
close to perpendicular to the glass face) SHGC is highest; this coincides with winter and community profiles, at
spring. Beyond 50 degrees, SHGC decreases rapidly (corresponding to summer). The recensement/2006/as-sa/97-551/index-eng.cfm.
table shows zero to 60 degree angle of incidence for various building elevations. (For
the study building, beyond about 60 degrees angle of incidence there appeared to be
This comes from the 2013 Natural Resources
no benefit to the use of LSG low-e to control indoor thermal comfort.) LSG low-e Canada (NRCan) report, “Energy Efficiency
would also be beneficial for southwest-facing apartments throughout the year and Trends in Canada, 1990−2010.”
could be used for northeast-facing apartments in spring, summer, and fall. (In the
early morning, solar gain may not be objectionable. For northwest-facing apartments,
there would be very few hours when LSG low-e would be beneficial. HSG low-e would
be more beneficial for northwest- and northeast-facing apartments.) 5
Detailed information on experiment conditions,
findings, conclusions, and recommendations
The path forward can be found in CMHC’s 2012 report “Selection
The findings demonstrate there is a benefit of Low-e Coated Glass for Older Residential
to using HSG and LSG low-e glazing, but one High-rise Apartment Buildings in Canada,
must be careful when choosing the type of low-e Ottawa,” available online at
to suit façade orientation and solar exposure. odpub/pdf/67829.pdf.

26 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

Reἀecting on
Glazing Strategies

Part Four
Testing, Rating, and Specifying
Physical Performance with NAFS


Adam Mantei, was an engineer with Intertek’s Building

Products Division. His areas of expertise include building
envelope testing, evaluation, and certification. Mantei manages
test programs for physical performance, fire resistance, and
thermal transmission characteristics. He served on the board of
directors of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association
(WDMA) of British Columbia in 2011 and 2012, and is an engineer-in-training
(EIT) registered with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists
of British Columbia (APEGBC). Mantei received a bachelor’s degree in
engineering from the University of Victoria (British Columbia) in 2009. He is
now a product development engineer with the Peak Group of Companies.

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 27

Photo © Dreamstime/Emotionart
Testing, Rating, and Specifying
Physical Performance
with NAFS
seful standards for testing the physical performance of (TDDs), and unit skylights. The standard was developed
windows have been developed over many years, jointly under the guidance of the Canadian Standards
culminating in the North American Fenestration Association (CSA), American Architectural Manufacturers
Standard (NAFS). This standard was first published in 2005, Association (AAMA), and the Window & Door Manufacturers
with new editions available in 2008 and 2011. Association (WDMA).
Concurrently, testing laboratories have played a pivotal NAFS is a harmonization of AAMA 101, WDMA I.S.2, and
role in verifying building product’s performance according CSA A440, and hence its formal name is AAMA/WDMA/CSA
to the standards. The test methods for fenestration products 101/I.S.2/A440–NAFS–North American Fenestration Standard/
are quite familiar to manufacturers and have driven product Specification for Windows, Doors, and Skylights. It is concerned
improvements for decades. mainly with the determination of performance grade (PG),
NAFS establishes minimum and optional performance design pressure (DP), and related performance ratings such as air
requirements for windows, doors, tubular daylight devices leakage resistance and water penetration resistance test pressure.

28 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

NAFS has earned wide acceptance by product manufacturers,

Photos courtesy Intertek

testing laboratories, and code officials. Yet, building standards
are only as good as they are understood and applied by
architects and specifiers—this is particularly true in Canada,
where the minimum requirements may be quite strict
compared to other regions of North America.

Physical performance and energy efficiency

The energy efficiency of buildings is important in many
climates. NAFS does not deal with energy ratings such as
U-factor, solar heat gain co-efficient (SHGC), condensation
resistance, and visible light transmittance (VLT).1
However, the physical performance of windows, doors,
and other openings with regard to air infiltration and Massive slider specimen undergoing structural wind load testing per
water penetration is intimately related to energy efficiency. ASTM E330, Standard Test Method for Structural Performance of
Therefore, it is important to consider the NAFS grades when Exterior Windows, Doors, Skylights, and Curtain Walls by Uniform
Static Air Pressure Difference.
designing for energy efficiency.
Canada updated its fenestration standard to strengthen through use of geographic, climatic, and terrain parameters.
the regulations on these products by expanding the scope of Clear identification of the applicable parameters by local
tests, reworking the product rating system, and specifying authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ) will be essential for
additional material and component requirements to provide a smooth transition to the new regulations, as well as for
buildings with added safety and security. manufacturers and building officials.
When the 2010 National Building Code of Canada (NBC)
adopted NAFS-08 earlier this year, the 2012 British Columbia Testing of doors
Building Code (BCBC) and the 2012 Ontario Building Code Window, door, and skylight products and their components
(OBC) opted to incorporate the provisions directly into are tested for air leakage, water penetration, and two separate
their own provincial building code as well. NBC requires all wind pressure tests designed to measure deflection and blow-
fenestration products within the scope of NAFS to conform out structural failure. Other auxiliary tests include operational
to the standard’s Canadian supplement, CSA A440 S1-09. forced entry, cycling, and sash and vertical deflection.
The supplement includes added compliance measures as well New to the openings industry is NAFS testing and evaluation
as several performance and material requirements. It also of side-hinged door systems. Performance testing for side-
mandates fenestration products be properly labelled. hinged doors will now be required and enforced within
The updated NAFS requires rigorous testing of fenestration Canada where regulatory bodies have adopted the standard.
products. The primary test procedures are for air infiltration Doors can present unique challenges for manufacturers
and exfiltration, water penetration, and structural capacity. wishing to demonstrate conformance. Unlike windows, their
Air leakage is expressed in terms of a volume per window components are rarely shipped as a completed door/frame
area for pre-determined pressure difference. In Canada, A2 is assembly, but are rather assembled from components purchased
the minimum grade allowed for air leakage, and maximum from several vendors. The responsibility to demonstrate proof
air leakage is measured for both directions. Water penetration of conformance will lie with the company or individual who
evaluates the ability to resist water penetration at a differential applies the NAFS labels to the assembly.
pressure tied to the Performance Grade.
Structural capacity is determined by the application of The labelling of performance
a uniform load. There must be no permanent damage to a Once a fenestration product has been thoroughly tested and the
window, which must operate freely after testing. Deflection manufacturer has ensured it conforms to NAFS and Canadian
limits are used to determine CW and AW ratings for the top two Supplement requirements, two labels must be affixed to the
AAMA 101 performance classes. assembly, including a permanent and temporary marking.
Other auxiliary tests include operation force, forced entry, The permanent marking will indicate the manufacturer’s
cycling, and sash and vertical deflection. However, NAFS is name on the label. This must be placed in a location visible
not just a testing method. It describes ways to rate and specify when the product is installed, and remain on for the product’s
windows, doors, and skylights. The Canadian Supplement to life. The temporary marking indicates the physical performance
NAFS, CSA A440 S1-09, provides product selection criteria ratings the product achieved during testing. It also shows when

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 29

should also be able to recognize NAFS labels and requirements
for their jurisdiction to ensure product conformance.

Rating mulled assemblies

According to AAMA 450, Voluntary Performance Rating
Method for Mulled Fenestration Assemblies, mulled assemblies
can also be rated. Mullion ratings for air, water, and structure
become part of the test record for the composite units, or
mulled combination assembly.
In applying this standard, it is important to understand the
definitions and the difference between a combination assembly
and a composite assembly. A combination assembly is formed
by two or more separate windows, window composites, or doors
whose frames are mulled together using a combination joining
In this photo, signs of water leakage are being searched for mullion or reinforcing mullion. A composite assembly, on the
during a water test for ASTM E331, Standard Test Method for other hand, is a window or door consisting of two or more sash
Water Penetration of Exterior Windows, Skylights, Doors, and
Curtain Walls by Uniform Static Air Pressure Difference. in one frame with an integral mullion.
According to NAFS Section 4.6.1, “Mullion Ratings,” testing
the mulled assemblies (including window wall assemblies)
qualifies the mullions for use in similar units or assemblies
with equal or smaller spans and equal or smaller tributary
widths, and in horizontal mullions with equal or smaller
supported mass.2
Clause (“Testing as a Combination Assembly”) of
NAFS allows the combination assembly to qualify individual
units, according to certain rules. Alternatively, individual units
can be tested, with mullion performance tested separately or
calculated in accordance with AAMA 450. Consequently, there
are three approaches to rating mulled assemblies.
1. The first option is to test the total assembly. An advantage of
this approach is it covers mandatory air/water testing. It is
The cannon is primed for the next impact for hurricane resistance also exempt from L/175 criteria, which requires deflections
testing per ASTM E1886, Standard Test Method for Performance
of Exterior Windows, Curtain Walls, Doors, and Impact Protective measured under specified loads be limited to 1/175 of the
Systems Impacted by Missile(s) and Exposed to Cyclic Pressure length L spanned by the specimen. With this approach,
Differentials, and ASTM E1996, Standard Specification for a PE review and seal are not required and follow-
Performance of Exterior Windows, Curtain Walls, Doors, and Impact
Protective Systems Impacted by Windborne Debris in Hurricanes. up calculations can be performed for alternate sizes.
Disadvantages involve the test specimen preparation,
it was issued and lists the “primary and secondary designator,” costs, and test lab scheduling. This option appears to
which can be found on the test report. be the most logical to follow since air and water testing
The primary designator is a one-line identifier indicating is required for others, but it should not be undertaken
the performance class, performance grade, overall size of the without thorough planning and anticipation of grouping.
tested assembly, and product type. The secondary designator 2. Option two is to test the mullion element. This approach
is more specific about the product’s performance. It lists requires minimal test specimen preparation and cost, and
the product’s positive and negative design pressures, water produces more favourable results than the final option.
penetration resistance test pressure, and the Canadian air It does require analysis by a professional engineer, and
infiltration/exfiltration level. the L/175 limits must be applied. An anchor analysis must
The temporary marking can be removed after the final be done by a third party, and this approach requires follow
code inspection has been completed. Manufacturers strongly up testing of air and water. This option is best suited for
encourage building code officials to educate themselves about composite mullions that would be conservatively analyzed by
these standards and the product testing procedures involved, option three.
since some Canadian provinces and territories have already 3. The third option is the engineering approach. No test
adopted NAFS and the Canadian Supplement. Building officials specimens are required and it provides a quick and

30 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

inexpensive evaluation of many profiles. Disadvantages
are no credit is applied for partial composite action or
polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and the L/175 limits must be
applied. An anchor analysis must be done by a third-party
PE, and this approach requires follow-up testing of air and
water. Option three is a valuable component of grouping
and is also important for existing testing where optional
water tests have been performed. This hurricane-
In summary, NAFS describes the procedures and requirements resistant product
for determining the air infiltration, water resistance, and is being impacted
by three large
structural performance of factory-built or knocked-down-then- missiles. Two
field-mulled fenestration assemblies. It presents test procedures more will go on
and calculation procedures for structural performance and this fixed window.

provides a means of grouping mulled fenestration assemblies.

NAFS-11 Updates
Some key differences between the updated NAFS-11 and
NAFS-08 include:
• NAFS-11 requires force to operate dead-bolt be measured
and recorded;
• NAFS-11 removes the pass/fail requirements for AAMA
925-07, Specification for Determining the Vertical Loading
Resistance of Side-hinged Door Leaves;
• NAFS-11 makes the distinction between glass-glazed (RWG) or
plastic-glazed (RWP) roof windows;
• NAFS-11 expands the definition of tubular daylighting
device (TDD) products to further include closed ceiling
(TDDCC) and open ceiling (TDDOC) options;
• NAFS-11 makes reference to downward and upward
directions, which are tied to positive and negative loads for
roof-installed products, as well as using two times the design
pressure for loads in downward (i.e. positive) direction
for skylights;
• folding door systems have been excluded from the scope of
NAFS-11; and
• new operator types include parallel opening windows
(POWS) and roof windows, along with secondary storm Preparations begin for conducting a series of air/water/structural
testing on the latest hurricane-resistant products.
products (SSP).
The next updated edition of NAFS is slated for 2017. and specifiers take stock of such information, a superior quality
of building construction will become the rule in Canada.
While certification is not obligatory for fenestration products Notes
to meet building code requirements, many manufacturers 1
These factors and related products were described by Steve
do elect to certify their products. Manufacturer certification Fronek, PE, in the article, “Ensuring Energy Efficiency:
provides assurance to architects, specifiers, and building Specifying Windows and Curtain Walls for Cold Climates”
owners a product has not only met requirements, but also in the October 2013 issue of Construction Canada. To read it,
continues to do so. visit
Since its introduction in 2005, NAFS has harmonized many specifying-windows-and-curtain-walls-for-cold-climates-2.
diverse standards for testing the performance of windows 2
A span is the clear distance measured parallel to the length of
and doors and has become a vital part of building codes in a mullion or divider between support points. A tributary width
many jurisdictions. As manufacturers and testing laboratories is the width of wind-bearing area contributing to the load on a
continue to document performance ratings of their products mullion or divider.

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 31

Reἀecting on
Glazing Strategies

Part Five
How to Give Open-window Comfort
to Multi-storey Structures


Michael P. Toohey is the director of architectural product sales

and marketing for the Bilco Company. He has more than 25
years of experience in the construction industry and has dealt
with specialty access products for more than two decades.
Toohey is a member of the National Roofing Contractors
Association (NCRA). He can be contacted at

32 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

All images courtesy The Bilco Company
How to Give
Open-window Comfort
to Multi-storey Structures
ith an appropriate strategy and design, a first mechanical fan. This was thought to date back
naturally ventilated structure can be to the 1500s in the Middle East, where a ceiling-
comfortable for all occupants, including suspended canvas-covered-frame would be actuated
those in a multi-storey building. This article by servants pulling ropes to move the air. In the
examines how natural ventilation fits into mixed- late 1800s, mechanical ventilation technologies and
mode setups, safety considerations for building systems developed through the industrial revolution
occupants, and esthetic features, and also explores began making their way into large buildings,
how it can relieve engineers of issues associated including Great Britain’s Houses of Parliament.
with pairing an off-the-shelf actuator with a However, Willis Carrier, considered the ‘father’ of
standard window. air-conditioning, had perhaps the most dramatic
impact on mechanical ventilation when he designed
History of ventilation the first modern system in 1902 as a method of solving
Ventilation—the process of supplying and removing humidity-caused issues for a Brooklyn-based printing
air through an indoor space—has been applied in company. By 1915, he and six other engineers formed
structures for thousands of years. Igloos, teepees, the Carrier Engineering Company, and human
Roman atria, and Persian wind-catchers are examples environmental comfort levels changed forever.
of how airflow has been harnessed to moderate
environmental conditions or eliminate smoke. Natural ventilation’s second wind
Natural ventilation (NV) was the only kind of As mentioned, it is only over the past few centuries
building ventilation prior to the development of the natural methods have been overtaken by mechanical

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 33

and outdoor air and involves warm air rising to
create a vacuum effect to pull in the lower, cooler air.
Even if the air being drawn in is only slightly cooler,
occupant comfort can be enhanced simply by the
movement of the air, as the principles of heat transfer
and evaporative cooling still apply. Further, natural
ventilation is self-compensating—the amount of
ventilation is improved when warmer, more buoyant
air and wind moves across a roof vent, generating
negative pressure and effectively vacuuming the
warm air out. However, it can be difficult to achieve
the desired environment with natural ventilation
because of uncontrollable changes in wind speed,
direction, and outside temperature.
Rather than relying on natural forces, mechanical
ventilation uses fans to move air that has been
heated or cooled through ductwork. While there are
downsides to the mechanical ventilation—including
increased power consumption, higher operating
costs, more noise, high-maintenance requirements,
This is a louvred ventilator that installs easily in a façade to provide both day-
and sick-building syndrome from a lack of outdoor
to-day ventilation and smoke control. It is offered with numerous louvre and
control options to integrate natural ventilation into an automated climate air circulation—mechanical ventilation provides
control system, while still meeting ventilation requirements. exceptional control of internal environmental
conditions such as temperature and humidity
systems to make buildings more comfortable for regardless of outdoor conditions. Unlike natural
occupants. Mechanical airflow systems are in ventilation, mechanical ventilation is set-point-
place worldwide, but European and other Old established rather than self-compensating, so it will
World citizens are quite familiar with naturally only ever provide the designed flow rate, which will
ventilated buildings. In North America, people are diminish if the system is not properly maintained.
far more accustomed to tightly sealed buildings Unfortunately, there is no single answer to
with mechanically controlled airflow. However, determine which method is the best choice. This
natural ventilation is becoming more important, depends entirely on the application. However, there
as it offers various benefits to both building is one certainty—it does not always have to be an
owners and occupants. either/or situation. Since each system has its own set
Naturally ventilated buildings can offer lower of advantages and disadvantages, it is possible the
construction costs, reduced energy consumption best selection could be choosing both and going with
and maintenance requirements, less environmental a mixed-mode system.
impact, healthier airflow, and better long-term One particularly good illustration of a mixed-
compliance to the emerging building codes and mode benefit involves night-purging, where passive
standards, such as Leadership in Energy and ventilation is kept closed during the day, but opened in
Environmental Design (LEED). the evening, exhausting the warm air out and chilling
the thermal mass with cooler nighttime air.
Natural, mechanical, or both? Every building application is unique, and there are
Natural airflow (i.e. wind) and buoyancy are the numerous criteria that can impact the selection of a
two natural forces driving air through a building, ventilation approach. The following are 10 areas to
and each provides a unique natural ventilation consider when evaluating the type of system to employ.
strategy. The first, cross-ventilation, involves air
driven by wind into a building on one side to force Application
air out of the other. The second, stack ventilation, Natural ventilation works well in buildings of a
relies on the temperature difference between indoor height that provides a good thermal gradient—

34 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

generally a minimum of 6 to 8 m (20 to 26 ft). In
these conditions, warm air leaves the building’s
upper levels and is replaced by cooler air from
the lower levels. Atria, malls, industrial sites,
office buildings with large open spaces, and
transportation facilities are good examples of this
type of structure.
Effective ventilation may also be achieved
in low-rise buildings by employing shafts
connected to roof-mounted vents. This serves to
create a chimney effect until the desired interior
temperature is reached, at which point the vents
are closed. Roof ventilators can either be flapped
or louvred, and are used as the termination to the
chimney, providing control of the heat release as
well as weathering the shaft.

Weather conditions
Naturally, a particular area’s ambient weather
conditions can be important. For example,
Some natural ventilation systems harness wind and heat to create a comfortable
Calgary’s warm season tends to last from June 18 and healthy internal environment with optimal temperatures and humidity levels
through September 7, with an average daily high and good air quality. The systems rely on automatically opening and closing
of 23 C (73.4 F) and a low of 8 C (46.4 F). Indeed, ventilators, and can range from a simple open/close switch to a fully integrated
energy management system with carbon dioxide, temperature and weather
the period from July 3 to August 20 is considered sensors, as well as controls to interface with the building climate control.
the most comfortable time of year from a dewpoint
perspective, and the wide high-to-low temperature Esthetics
swing is ideal for night-purging, seemingly making Architects and HVAC contractors have a history of
Calgary a good natural ventilation location choice. camouflaging mechanical ventilation systems, which
New York City, on the other hand, has a similar can certainly be eyesores, even though their presence
warm season that runs from June 4 through is generally accepted. Natural ventilation products
September 15, also with an average daily high of can actually enhance a structure’s visual appeal and
23 C, but an average low of only 19 C (66.2 F). be used as part of a building’s overall design.
Further, the period from July 3 through August Products are available for glazed building façades
26 features muggy and uncomfortable dewpoints. to add a new dimension to a design, and can be
Neither of these facts preclude New York City supplied in numerous styles and colours. Units can
buildings from using natural ventilation, but it does be glazed in, effectively replacing a glass panel, or
suggest mechanical cooling would be a better choice fitted onto steelwork.
during the Big Apple’s hot August days.
Environments Certainly, the initial cost to equip a building with
It is important to factor the building’s location into two types of ventilation systems can be expected
the ventilation plan. Even in examples of perfect to be higher than had only one been selected, but
weather conditions, naturally ventilating a building it is quite feasible the additional initial costs may
located near an area where the air features high quickly be offset by reduced building operating
particulate concentrations (e.g. near stone crushing expenses. Even if a natural ventilation system is
or cement plants), offensive odours (e.g. feed lots or engaged only 30 per cent of the time, months or
water treatment facilities), or facilities generating a even years of more useful service could be gained
lot of noise (e.g. airports or rail yards), might not be over a mechanical system that is always engaged.
the best overall choice for occupant comfort, even Lower maintenance can also be expected, along
if the temperature remains cool. with reduced energy costs.

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 35

Health, safety, and internal air quality
The Canadian Center for Occupational Health
and Safety (CCOHS) and the U.S. National Safety
Council (NSC) identify insufficient outdoor air
intake as a common cause of internal air quality
(IAQ) problems. In the United Kingdom, the
National Health Service (NHS) states:

office workers in modern buildings without opening

windows and with mechanical ventilation or air-conditioning
are most at risk.

However, the benefits of fresh air intake through

open windows needs to be weighed against the
potential safety risks to the occupants of high-rise
structures as well as to individuals on the ground.
High-rise buildings may have restrictions to the
amount windows can be opened due to fall risk. In
this scenario, building owners can choose a glazed
This system installs in a glass atrium or directly onto the roof. It provides louvre model in order to restrict a large opening, but
ventilation and smoke control to aid evacuation in case of a fire. still maintain ample free area.

Structural limitations
There are numerous types of building façade products
and some natural ventilation systems that feature
off-the-shelf actuators field-fabricated to fit operable
windows and accomplish the ventilation objectives.
While such executions may provide acceptable
adequate ventilation, a units’ size, weight, and power
requirements can negatively impact functional area
usage, or damage window hardware and seals not
originally intended for mechanical actuation. An
alternative to this potentially dysfunctional design
is a casement ventilator. This can allow design
professionals to eliminate the need to retrofit or
customize standard windows in the field.

Facility layout considerations

Designed for high aerodynamic, acoustic, and thermal performance, this
type of product provides ventilation for most kinds of industrial and
Natural ventilation systems use little electricity,
commercial buildings. It is suited for installation into atriums and glazing. resulting in a minimal impact on a structure’s carbon
footprint. Careful consideration does, however, need
Typically, the payback on natural ventilation to be paid to airflow and ‘free areas’—the effective
compared to mechanical ventilation can be less area of ventilation, not just the physical area of the
than three years. It is also important to consider unit—in the initial design and configuration of the
performance of the actual ventilator—a thermally building’s interior to assure ambient conditions and
broken model will result in low heat loss and heat loads are adequately addressed.
minimum air leakage. Maintenance on natural
ventilators is low, and should be checked occasionally Control requirements
to ensure everything is working properly. With There are numerous applications when simple set-
mechanical systems, filters need to be replaced and point activation—where the vents are actuated at a
refrigerant levels need to be monitored. particular temperature—are all that are required to

36 Construction Canada E-BOOK | WINDOWS

control ventilation. Other applications may The slim profile will
require more complex systems connected to complement the façade
design of any building.
a building’s automated management system. There are options
This approach allows different vents to available for automated
open and close at various temperatures to climate control.
control and blend fresh air input depending
on the season. Advance knowledge of ambient
conditions and occupant expectations can
help determine the best control method for a
particular application.

The earlier in the design process ventilation
is considered, the more likely the best
results will be achieved for virtually all the
considerations mentioned. For example, if
natural ventilation is known to be a primary
objective of the structure before its design,
louvre placement, and building orientation
can be set to make the best use of prevailing This casement window
weather patterns. ventilator offers an
integrative solution for
Venting façades can be placed to fully
actuated window
achieve the esthetic value of these products requirements,
and designs may be created in such a way as eliminating the need
to accommodate multiple venting options. to retrofit or customize
standard windows in
For instance, vents can be placed away the field. It provides
from pollution sources, floor plans may be low-level air inlet or
developed to encourage rather than impede high-level extract
ventilation as well as
airflow, and similar steps may be taken to natural daylight to
ensure the structure is efficient, comfortable, most industrial and
and esthetically pleasing. commercial buildings.

As the world moves toward healthier living
and working environments, sustainable
building practices, and lessened carbon
footprints, natural ventilation systems are
becoming more prevalent in designs, but
strictly natural ventilation systems may not
be ideal for every building application. A fully
mechanical system may be the best option
in applications requiring a specific internal
temperature and humidity level. In many
cases, however, a mixed-mode system using
natural ventilation during certain periods and
mechanical ventilation during temperature
extremes, may be the best option. Knowing
the environmental conditions and building- Typical applications for façade ventilation are hospitals, schools, shopping centres,
owner’s expectations early in the process is apartments, and commercial buildings. Its form and function makes it particularly
suited to naturally ventilated buildings where good aerodynamic and measured
critical to selecting the right climate control free area ventilation is required while achieving high acoustic, thermal, and
system for a building. aerodynamic performance, as noted previously.

WINDOWS | Construction Canada E-BOOK 37