Homeowners looking for ways to make their house “green” or eco-friendly shouldn’t overlook the hardest working door in the house.
As the largest moving part on a home, the garage door plays an important role in energy efficiency and sustainability – two important criteria in green building design. Green building is about reducing environmental impact. With an average life cycle of 15 to 20 years, investing in a durable garage door that can withstand the rigors of daily use is money well spent for your home and the environment. Long-lasting eco friendly products help reduce the impact of manufacturing and building on the environment, as well as distribution fuel costs and general waste. When shopping for a door that is built to last look for galvanized torsion springs, 3-layer galvanized steel construction, a baked-on paint finish that resists fading and peeling, and CFC-free insulation. Insulated steel and composite polymer “faux wood” doors are becoming popular alternatives to real wood doors for two reasons: they are more energy efficient, and the construction material is UV resistant and impervious to moisture, meaning it won’t rot, warp or crack. Therefore, the door won’t need to be refurbished or replaced as frequently as one constructed from natural materials.
An insulated door on your garage can help reduce household energy consumption if you have an attached garage. Since attached garages typically share one or two common walls with the house, any hot or cold air that travels through a door will ultimately reach the adjacent living areas. An insulated garage door can help stabilize temperatures in the garage to reduce heat losses or gains from common house walls. Replacing an older door with a new, energy efficient model can reduce energy loss through the garage by up to 71%, and keep an unheated garage 10 -20 degrees warmer on a cold winter day, according to a study conducted by engineers at Clopay Building Products. Three-layer steel garage doors featuring environmentally safe, CFC-free, polyurethane insulation foam injected between two sheets of steel typically offer the highest R-values. R-value is a measurement of thermal efficiency of a door, or how well it insulates. The higher the R-value, the more energy efficient the door is.
In coastal areas or regions where high winds are common, the garage door is a critical element in protecting a home during a storm. Because of their size, garage doors are more susceptible to wind damage than other exterior openings – especially two-car garages. Unless you have a tested, reinforced door installed, high winds can force it out of the opening. The loss of a garage door can cause internal pressure to build up, resulting in a total blowout of the roof and supporting walls – similar to an explosion. Investigate local building requirements and make sure your door meets them.
Mark Westerfield is Director of Product Development and Engineering at Clopay Building Products, North America’s leading residential and commercial garage door manufacturer.
With over 20 years industry experience, Westerfield is a Licensed Professional Engineer in four states and an active member of the garage door industry’s Technical Committee. He has made numerous presentations throughout the U.S. on various technical topics, including several on wind load rated garage doors.