Good morning I have recently started working on the Sound abatement project around O'hare airport. People who live in the flight paths of the runways are having their windows and doors replaced with U-.26 high efficiency windows and high efficiency doors. Sounds like a great opportunity to save a ton of energy right? One BIG problem WE ARE NOT AIR SEALING!!!. The inspectors only require minimal fibreglass insulation stuffed into the small perimeter around the window with a putty knife. The gap between the new windows and existing frame is between 1/16"- 3/8" and could easily be sealed with the high quality silicone caulk that we have on site. Problem is it is not in the specs and the inspectors want to see the insulation to prove it has been done. Their theory is that when the capping is finished, it is caulked and therefore sealed. Well guess what, as we remove the old windows first we take off the existing capping. Lo and behold every single window that was previously capped and caulked had air infiltration as indicated by the dirt that showed on the fibreglass insulation. All of the Architects, consultants, engineers and whoever else is responsible for this project either do not know Building Science or ignore the gains in knowledge we have learned in the past 30 years. I am sad to say the powers that be do not know their A** from a hole in the ground when it comes to Energy Efficiency.In the end WE the Carpenters will be blamed for a substandard insulation of a great replacement window. I do not think we will ever have this opportunity again. Wake UP Management you have BLOWN IT once again. Also we put standard pine window bucks in direct contact with concrete and only prime what you see not the surface that is in contact with the concrete. There is not enough room in this column to list the tragedy of errors in this project. When you think of Chicago as a Green city it will be from the mold that is going to develop in at least 2800 homes courtesy of our uninformed and substandard Planning and development team. CLUELESS in Chicago

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Hi Randy,

A story repeated all too often.  The people you want to explain this to are the politicians.  If there is one thing that gets their attention, it's wasted money that they might get blamed for.  If the party in power won't take action, the other one will. 


Right on Bud!

I'm in DC (the Nation's Capitol) and one of my biggest pet projects is trying to get the lobbying effort for our industry in the works and off the ground.

If you don't have a voice in DC, you don't have a real future as an industry.

I too watched countless local and state programs d**k the dog, and this created in me fiery motivation to make sure these kinds of short-sighted mistakes happen less and less in the future.

Good luck Randy!

Why not beg/borrow/steal a sound meter, and caulk one and test the finished product vs the way they want you to do it?  What about installing the fiberglass which will give much-needed R-value that the caulk won't in your cold climate, then caulk over it with any clear caulk so they can see the fiberglass below - cheap clear acrylic/latex would do it as well as real silicone.  Maybe the combination of slightly compressed fiberglass for better R-value and a little bit of soundproofing, and then the caulk would show even better.  Do 2 adjacent windows facing the same direction (worst direction) in the same house and repeat 4-5 times on different houses.

Check your new-home codes.  Even though that might not apply to replacement windows, you could point to a standard that should be used.  The IECC since about 2003 has required sealing at the windows framing.

Every air leak in the house is contributing to the sound infiltration - find out if you can sell the HO on a little more air sealing depending on the architecture of the house - a cape cod with the front facing the runway?  A large bay window on an overhang?  We have had excellent results densepacking walls for sound even though they might already be insulated, and especially if they are not yet insulated.

Ed Minch


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