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Time after time, educational administrators are challenged to do whatever they can to cut costs. This is not an easy task, especially when considering the large number of aging buildings that need continual maintenance. And since the school-age population has been forecasted to grow, these facilities will continue to be used heavily and require ongoing maintenance.

Renovation of existing buildings, while involving spending money upfront, can result in dramatic cost savings. One renovation that can make a large impact on an educational institution's bottom line is replacing existing inefficient windows. New windows can help improve a facility in numerous ways. Most obviously, they will make a dramatic improvement to the appearance of the building and enhance overall aesthetics. That, however, is only the beginning.

They also can dramatically reduce fuel bills, reduce or eliminate basic maintenance requirements, and add to the overall security of the facility.

Once the decision is made to begin replacing windows, it is important to: *Know what to look for. *Determine which features are important and why. *Decide which windows are best suited for the facility. *Determine what concerns need to be addressed with new windows.

Assess fuel bills If your facility was built before 1970, you probably are constantly battling high energy costs. Whether it is hot or cold outside, fuel bills may escalate partly due to single-glazed glass and non-thermal windows. Many existing school and university buildings built prior to 1970 contain large single-glazed windows with no, or very poor, weatherstripping. Some of these windows were made from steel or non-thermal aluminum.

Metal is a natural conductor; therefore, heat is lost easily through the metal window frame. Plus, without weatherstripping, the air easily can escape or enter through the openings in the frame. That means during the winter, the facility's heating system literally is working to heat the inside of the building as well as the air outside. In the summer, if the building is air conditioned, the cooling system is working just as hard to cool the outside air.

That is why window replacement can make such a huge impact. Today's insulated glass and insulating panels dramatically can reduce heat loss. Plus, the improved weatherstripping used in new products minimizes air infiltration, and the thermal break in aluminum reduces heat loss through metal frames. These features all add up to a dramatic reduction in your overall fuel bill.

Review maintenance costs Maintenance costs are an ongoing battle for any institution. While they are never going to go away, window replacement can help. Older windows require a great deal of maintenance, with the cost to maintain rotting wood or rusting steel frames, paint the windows every few years and repair broken glass quickly adding up. It not only costs the institution in actual material, but also in labor associated with the time it takes to perform the repairs.

Today's thermalized aluminum windows virtually can eliminate the need for maintenance. First, newer thermalized-frame windows are non-reactive to moisture and weather exposure. They will not rot, warp or buckle. Also, factory-applied paint finishes are permanent, which means the maintenance crew will not have to sand, scrape or repaint. In addition, if the institution installs windows with tempered glass or polycarbonate plastic glazing, the windows will resist breakage, virtually eliminating the need to replace broken glass.

Finally, new windows will make cleaning easier. New windows can be made with sashes that tilt in to permit glass cleaning from the interior, eliminating the need for workers to clean higher units from ladders outside of the building.

Analyze security features Today's schools are facing an increasing threat--after-hours vandalism. It can threaten facilities from the elementary level straight up through higher education. Its impact can be devastating--especially when expensive computer equipment is the target.

If security at your facility is a concern, look for new windows made with automatic locks. On these units, the locks automatically engage when sashes are closed. As a result, once the unit is closed, the windows will not open from the outside. Most of these windows are tested for forced-entry resistance, which increases the building's security during evening and late-night hours. These types of windows will resist vandalism during daytime hours, as well. Because the automatic locks are tamper-resistant, would-be vandals cannot alter the locks or tamper with them.

New windows are a valuable investment that can add to the beauty and viability of the building for years. But it is important to evaluate the facility's needs before making a selection. Prioritize concerns, and then search for the product that best accommodates them.

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