Pushing The Envelope
By Anna Guy
Cascadia Windows Ltd. is a fiberglass construction products manufacturer with a commitment to improving energy performance in buildings and reducing the impacts the built world has on the environment.
President Mike Battistel and his partners had a vision for a product that would lead the industry in energy consumption, operation and manufacturing cost efficiency, and environmental stewardship. The product? Fiberglass windows.
We last met up with Cascadia Windows and Doors in 2014. The company, founded in 2008, had deftly navigated the Global Financial Crisis by augmenting its fiberglass window manufacturing with the Cascadia Clip, a thermal spacer made from low-conductivity fiberglass material that greatly reduces thermal bridging while improving the effective thermal resistance of the exterior wall. The Cascadia Clip was still well within the wheelhouse of the company, whose main focus is on the manufacture of energy efficient fiberglass construction products.
Architects and Contractors loved the Cascadia Clip, and overall Cascadia grew at a compound rate of about 30 per cent annually, despite being in a recession. The company’s success coincided with the changing of the BC Building Code and related standards for minimum energy efficiency of buildings. The Cascadia team was ahead of the curve; its Cascadia Clip met and exceeded all the new standards. Battistel then focused on educating the industry on the effectiveness of fiberglass for reducing energy consumption in buildings, and expanded the line with a range of fiberglass windows that can improve the thermal performance of a building, while being made without toxic materials.
“Fiberglass is Awesome”
A Building Science Specialist by trade, Battistel understands buildings are the single biggest consumers of energy and cause of related carbon emissions. “Today’s world desperately needs better energy conservation strategies from every sector, and buildings,” says Battistel. “We are driven by a passion to produce products that will have the greatest impact for a healthier tomorrow.”
Why fiberglass? According to Battistel, “It’s more durable than wood, double the thermal performance of aluminum, and almost ten times stronger than vinyl”. “Fiberglass is awesome,” says the company website.
“A typical good, modern aluminum window R-value is roughly R2 to R3,” says Battistel. (R value refers to the reciprocal of the thermal transmittance (U-factor) of a material or assembly).
“Our fiberglass universal series are R7 or higher. When talking about the weakest link thermally in the whole building envelope, that is a huge difference, almost double the entire thermal effectiveness of the whole building in many cases. This correlates to lower operational cost, and by creating products that minimize energy usage in buildings, it also creates huge impact on overall energy consumption and related climate change.”
Retrofitting The Belmont
Cascadia’s involvement in retrofitting The Belmont, a 13-story condominium on Vancouver’s west side, raised several eyebrows. The building’s existing windows consisted of double glazing with air fill and no low-e coatings in non-thermally broken aluminum frames, accounting for significant heat-loss, were replaced by triple glazed fiberglass windows. In addition, the exposed concrete walls were overclad including rockwool insulation and the Cascadia Clip. With the new configurations, the Belmont’s energy cost was reduced from $18,000 a year, to $2,000. The results were so outstanding that it caught the attention of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC’s Sustainability Award, the Canada Green Building Council, and the Fenestration Association of BC’s, who all awarded the project awards.
From there, Cascadia has reached international acclaim, receiving well over 50 industry awards and accolades including being named top 10 most innovative companies in BC by BC Business Magazine, Nominated by Time Magazine, Fortune, and CNN for the World Technology Award in the Environmental Category. Accolades aside, nothing is more rewarding to Battistel than contributing resilient, sustainable products that substantially reduce CO2 emissions that directly affect climate change.
Universal Fiberglass Windows Series
In January, 2018, Cascadia unveiled a new project, and the next stage in optimum thermal performance, structural capacity, and cost and ease of manufacturing. The Cascadia Universal Series is the next generation in fiberglass window technology, exceeding the energy efficiency standards of most commercial window and door products in the marketplace while offering aesthetically desirable designs that enhance the human connection to the outside and natural world.
“This series hits thermal performance values that no other similar window has ever hit,” says Battistel. “It is stronger than all of our other products, and can be used in high rise applications and larger spans. It’s easier to manufacture, without a significant rise in cost. This series is manufactured with materials free of hazardous and toxic components, and is “Red List Free” per the rigorous Living Building Challenge standard for building components—similar to the other Cascadia Series, which were the first window in the world to be on that list.”
Cascadia Universal Series windows and doors are also pending Passive House certification in Canada—a threshold that only one-in-a-thousand windows meet.
“These desirable characteristics have never coexisted in a single product,” Battistel added. “The Universal Series line offers optimum energy efficiency with the industry testing to back it up, without sacrificing the modern design aesthetic that architects and engineers are seeking.”
The Universal Series line writes a new chapter for building technology. Battistel has led Cascadia to innovate, design, and produce products that have been used on some of the most energy efficient buildings in the world.
The next big thing for Cascadia will be commercial grade fibreglass Window-wall, used for the entire outside façade of a building for high rises. Launching in about six months, Business Elite Canada will be sure to check back in. As one of Canada’s most innovative companies, their story keeps getting better.