Upgrading windows: repair, refurbish, or retrofit [AIA course]

Building Teams must focus on a number of key decisions in order to arrive at the optimal solution: repair the windows in place, remove and refurbish them, or opt for full replacement.

For an 1893 academic building in the Collegiate Gothic style at Bryn Mawr (Pa.)
For an 1893 academic building in the Collegiate Gothic style at Bryn Mawr (Pa.) College, architect MGA Partners reworked the original windows and added a new, glass-enclosed stair tower. The original building’s emphasis on ventilation systems and window placement is typical of college laboratories built in the 1880s, influenced by industrial practices and hospital design. Photo: Halkin Mason Photography
April 16, 2014

Thanks to today’s high-performance fenestration products and systems, well-designed and properly installed window retrofits deliver predictable and calculable operations benefits.

However, Building Teams must focus on a number of key decisions in order to arrive at the optimal solution: Repair the windows in place? Remove and refurbish them? Opt for full replacement? Which types of materials and window profiles and styles are best suited for a retrofit application? How do aesthetics factor into the equation? 

Drawing from years of experience, a select group of expert organizations and Building Team leaders, including architects and contractors, share insights that have helped sorting out these issues on recent major projects.

After reading this article, you should be able to:
• Describe the assessment considerations for replacing or repairing existing fenestration systems, with particular attention to occupant health and comfort.
• Explain the relative benefits and tradeoffs, including energy savings and indoor environmental quality, of material specifications for replacement window and door products.
• List three or more requirements for evaluating replacement windows, doors, and other fenestration, depending on the historical styles or aesthetic criteria of the subject building.
• Discuss the materials and systems attributes that affect a window system’s energy efficiency, including thermal bridging.

 

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