Hot Tips (Sustainable Facilities)

How to Select a Green Door

Many studies have shown that improved energy efficiency is the top driver behind sustainable design across all industries. 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 the overall energy efficiency of a building. As with windows or walls, care should be taken to specify components that limit thermal exchange (the transfer of heat from one side of the door and frame to the other).

Improving the thermal performance of your building envelope helps reduce energy usage and energy costs. You can help reduce heating and cooling loads by providing superior thermal performance windows and exterior entrances (doors and framing systems). Some aspects for accomplishing this:

  • Properly sealed construction
  • Resistance to thermal extremes
  • Superior insulation
  • Thermally broken framing
  • Insulated panels in adjoining sidelites
  • Insulated glass of at least one-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, because they are not the same thing. 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 December 2015 issue of College Planning & Management.

About the Author

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

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