Windows are a big deal. For our current project in Hollywood, windows cost roughly twenty dollars a square foot. That's twenty percent of the per square foot renovation cost, more than almost any building trade. In California, Title 24 energy standards have made new window installations require nationally certified brands, which eliminates the possibility of using less expensive local providers.
While the cost of high-quality, energy-efficient windows creates a challenge in terms of budget, it also speaks to the impact of good windows on the design of a project. Not only do the best windows look great, they perform great too. In our project on Patterson Brook Road, winter maintenance bills are less than half those of comparably-sized homes with older windows and insulation. Fuel costs can only go up.
Even in Los Angeles, where windows often stay open throughout the year, we feel that buying the best quality windows is an investment worth making. As temperatures climb and the need for central air conditioning becomes universal, tight building envelopes will downsize HVAC systems and improve indoor air quality. Low-E coatings and gas infill will reduce solar gain and allow for bright interiors without amplifying heat loads. Larger glazed openings will increase occupant comfort without compromising thermal performance.
Who knows, windows might just save the world.