Hot Tips (Green Doors)

Thermal Efficiency of the Building Envelope Is Critical

Would you like to save energy and go green? Then consider choosing exterior building materials with care. The importance of thermal efficiency cannot be overstated.

Studies have shown that improved energy-efficiency is the top driver behind sustainable design. The improvement of heating and cooling efficiency is the single most important attribute of the LEED standard, with efficiency thresholds being raised with each subsequent version of the standard. It is also the metric with the most obvious return on investment.

Although only a small portion of a structure’s surface area, exterior doors and frames are a functional part of the building envelope and can play an important role in overall energy efficiency. As with windows or walls, care should be taken to specify components that limit thermal exchange.

Improving the thermal performance of your building helps reduce energy usage and costs. You can help reduce heating and cooling loads by providing superior thermal performance windows and doors and framing systems.

Some steps for accomplishing this:

  • Properly sealed construction
  • Resistance to thermal extremes
  • Superior insulation
  • Thermally broken framing
  • Insulated panels in adjoining side lites
  • Insulated glass of at least 1-inch thickness
  • Keep vision lites to a minimum

Don’t be fooled by claims that equate the performance of the core material alone with the performance of a complete door assembly. Of any entrance system performance metric, thermal performance has the most easily represented, verifiable and measurable values. Without getting into technical details, remember — the U-Value of a product should be low, while the R-value should be high.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

About the Author

Barbara Jo Serago is a sales manager, Strategic Initiative, for Special-Lite, Inc. (

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