Vinyl Window System Meets Toughest Hurricane Certification

Hurricanes have shown that evacuation is not always possible for everyone in coastal regions. In fact, last summer Hurricanes Gustav and Ike reiterated that even buildings built to current hurricane building codes do not always offer enough protection to ensure the safety of people inside. As a result, Shwinco Industries of Lynn Haven, Florida and Dothan, Alabama and Saflex, a unit of Solutia Inc. of St. Louis, Missouri have partnered to develop the first vinyl window system on the coast, for the coast to meet the toughest hurricane certification: Level E.

Designed to be used by essential facilities such as storm shelters, hospitals, police stations and firehouses, Level E is a step more stringent than the Level D large missile test standards that most hurricane building codes require. A tough building standard known as ASTM E 1996 Level E was designed to protect buildings and the people inside when evacuation is not an option. The standard requires a glazing system to withstand impact by a nine-pound 2x4 fired at 80 feet per second (Standard large missile - Level D – requires material to resist a 9-pound 2x4 fired at 50 feet per second).

Shwinco’s Level E certified single hung vinyl window is featured on their Dominator EXT product line, which was originally designed for residential applications but has received Heavy Commercial ratings with the ability to withstand increased design pressures. In fact, the Level E window achieved a design pressure (DP) rating of DP100 -- a rating that is unheard of in vinyl windows. The window is composed of a hybrid construction with a patent-pending vinyl, unitized structural design and a glazing package that includes Saflex protective interlayers. Testing was completed at NCTL laboratory in Orlando in March and meets ASTM standards for Level E protection.

When it came time to design the new glazing system, Shwinco designers knew that the glazing would require extra strength. As a result, R&D work began on a single hung window that could achieve Level E certification. Saflex helped make this possible by developing an economical way to meet Level E standards. “The product allows architects and owners to include beautiful windows throughout a structure while maintaining safety and managing costs,” says Matt Rose, Saflex commercial market manager. “Many projects in coastal regions have designed for or are considering Level E protection and the test standard is gaining support in municipal governments across Florida and the Caribbean in addition to non-essential business such as banks, corporate headquarters and data facilities.”

“There were no vinyl windows on the market that could pass Level E. We wanted to develop a product that essential facilities could use to obtain all of the energy efficiency inherent in a vinyl window while also satisfying Level E protection,” said Craig Shipp, Jr., Shwinco operations manager. “Instead of retrofitting an existing system to meet impact standards, our Level E single hung window was developed especially for this application. Saflex helped us develop improved hurricane protection that is powerful and affordable.” In contrast to other windows on the market, the Dominator EXT window is up to 1000 times more energy efficient than comparable aluminum windows on the market today. Available in sizes up to 36”x72”, the single hung, insulated glass unit systems can also be ordered with an optional Low E coating. The windows are available in 3 colors: white, almond & sandstone.

Posted April 14th, 209

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