National Window Preservation Summit generates results, excitement
By Patrick Kennedy
Heritage Council Restoration Project Manager
The National Historic Window Preservation Summit July 26-28, 2011 at Pine Mountain Settlement School  in Harlan County was deemed an unqualified success in the first phase of efforts to provide definitive energy testing data. This data will be used in comparing the energy efficiency of restored and weatherized historic wood and steel windows with replacement windows, and subsequently to develop a set of historic window preservation standards.
Initial results indicate that even minimal weatherization done on historic wood and steel windows results in comparable energy efficiency values given for replacement windows. Importantly, testing was done by an independent tester, Architect Walter Sedovic and partner Jill Gotthelf with Walter Sedovic Architects , to standards established by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Accordingly, all data has to be certified as unbiased and will be subject to peer review before it can be published or released. This process is expected to be completed by early November.
The idea for developing specific window preservation standards was the result of a discussion in Frankfort during the 2010 International Preservation Trades Workshop by five window restoration specialists. These five, Duffy Hoffman, Bob Yapp, Jim Turner, David Gibney and John Leeke, came together to form the Window Preservation Standards Collaborative  (WPSC). They are all Preservation Trades Network  (PTN) members so they agreed to use this national educational non-profit organization to serve as the sponsor for the initiative. Support was provided by the Kentucky Heritage Council and Preservation Kentucky.
The summit was planned to provide a site to perform window restoration on a historic building and follow up with independent and qualified energy testing. Advisors and observers were invited by the WPSC to assist in standards development. Thirty-five participants came literally from the four corners of the country, from the middle states and Canada, and included independent tradespeople who perform window restoration work, contractors, architects, facilities managers, and owners of historic homes and commercial buildings.
WPSC members arrived a few days earlier than the advisors and observers so they could renovate and weatherize the subject windows. They focused on six wood double-hung windows and one metal casement window in one room of the Draper Building at the settlement school. Before any work was done, the initial energy testing was done to establish a baseline. This was a "blower door" test that provided data on the air leakage of the windows, performed by Chip Carrier with Energy Masters of Kentucky  based in Bowling Green. The room as a whole could be evaluated as well as each individual window. Next, to prepare for the "after" testing, WPSC used a variety of renovation methods - from full restoration to-do-it-yourself interior storms on these windows - to provide a broad range of approaches.
Advisors and observers arrived to see the energy testing conducted, learn about various weatherization methods used on the windows and discuss other approaches to window restoration. Participants were provided a draft copy of the standards and were encouraged to make notes, suggestions and observations to allow comprehensive input for the final publication. After three days of demonstrations and discussions, all departed with the specific mission to visit the WPSC forum website  and contribute their input to the draft standards. Anyone interested can follow ongoing research there.
Data gathered during the summit can be used to create additional models utilizing different weather zones to extrapolate how the same weatherization methods would perform on the same windows in climates ranging from the Northeast to Florida. We were pleased with the initial results and those of us involved in hands-on window preservation believe the final research will confirm what we've always known - that maintaining original, old-growth wood and steel windows in historic buildings is the optimal preservation and energy-efficient approach.
Based on the time it will take to interpret all the data, the target date for completion of the standards is December 2011. Watch the Kentucky Heritage Council website for updates!
Did You Know?
According to PTN, the replacement window industry is actively destroying hundreds of thousands of original and perfectly functional old windows every month. Based on the $8 billion spent every year on replacement windows, as many as 12 million classic, old growth, wood window sashes end up in landfills annually.
Read a press release [PDF - 91KB] about the summit authored by Bob Yapp of Preservation Resources Inc.  and the Belvedere School for Historic Preservation based in Hannibal, Missouri.
||Preservation Trades Network partnership
Because of the close partnership the Heritage Council has with the Preservation Trades Network (PTN) , Heritage Council Restoration Project Manager Patrick Kennedy has been elected by the membership to the PTN board, a post he assumed in January 2011. Kennedy was instrumental in recruiting the International Preservation Trades Workshop  to Frankfort in 2010.
PTN is a nonprofit membership organization founded to provide education, networking and outreach for the traditional building trades. The IPTW is the only annual event in North America that brings the foremost practitioners of the traditional building trades together in a single venue dedicated to sharing skills and knowledge. Click here for more about IPTW's current conference.