Tom Kraeutler: Welcome to this edition of the Money Pit's Top Product Podcast. I'm Tom Kraeutler coming to you today from Greenbuild 2013, where we are learning about some of the new technologies that are going into making homes and commercial buildings more green. Talking now with Brenda Brunk. Brenda is a product planner with Marvin Windows and Doors. My first question, Brenda, is what exactly does a product planner do?
Brenda Brunk: Product planner evaluates the market and takes a look at what products make sense for our brand and for what the needs of the voice of the customer are in our market. I work very closely with R&D and with marketing to be able to develop plans and launch a product.
Tom Kraeutler: That's really interesting, because there's been so many changes in window and door construction over the decades. These components are getting smarter and smarter and smarter. You're in a position where you're kind of paying attention to that. You've got your ear to the road on that. You're recommending the changes to your R&D side to help them bring these products to market. Here at Greenbuild, we're concentrating on energy savings, of course; something very, very important to consumers. What are some of the new technologies that we're seeing here in the Marvin products?
Brenda Brunk: We have a couple of products that we've been really working towards. One of them is our exterior shades. Our exterior shades are fully integrated in to our product and they're fully automated, giving the customer the flexibility of utilizing solar heat gain to their advantage, and also cutting it out when they don't want to have that feature in their home, which really lends itself to the passive market to be able to allow that customer to control that. We're using a lot of technology, some Apple products that we're being able to utilize with that, remote controls. Also, with our passive products with different glass technologies that we're working with, we're using different films, like an Eastman film to put into some of our units and TriPane as well. We're leveraging a lot of technology as we're moving forward with performance.
Tom Kraeutler: An exterior shade; is this actually physically mounted on to the exterior of the building, or is it inside the glass?
Brenda Brunk: It is actually in the rough opening of our unit, so that it is not an add on, it is not an after market product. It's fully integrated in to our products itself.
Tom Kraeutler: Does this offer any storm resistance, because typically the exterior shades that we've seen in the past have really more been exterior shutters that protected against flying debris and that sort of thing?
Brenda Brunk: No, not at this time. It's not impact resistant, nor is it a security feature. It's more for either an aesthetic or a performance reason.
Tom Kraeutler: What's the maintenance associated with that, having the shade on the exterior of the building? Obviously a lot of moving parts, a lot of folds in that material. How difficult will this be for a consumer to care for?
Brenda Brunk: Not hard at all. In fact, it's fully protected in the encasement that we have above the unit. It's got a cover on it, but it is accessible if a customer needed to service it. The material stays fairly clean, because we have a system that rolls up into the top. Basically, it's dusting it off or brushing things off of it that's really the maintenance.
Tom Kraeutler: Let's talk about windows. Windows are something that we have to replace in our homes usually every, maybe, 15 to 20 years. When we do, it's a major investment. We want to make the right choice. What are some of the things consumers should know about window technology and some of the features that Marvin's rolling out?
Brenda Brunk: I would definitely take a look at, first, durability. What are the types of materials that the products are made of? Our products are made out of wood and aluminum, which is a very durable material in combination. Also, taking a look at the glass performance and the area that they are in the country, and what makes the most sense as far as their U-Values and solar heat gain coefficients. If you take a look at the hardware, the hardware is also very important. We use a very robust system in all of our units, and it covers ... The components are a ten year warranty, the product is 20. Also look for a warranty.
Tom Kraeutler: Now if you're trying to assess the energy efficiency of a particular window, how do you make an apples to apples comparison against other competing products that are out there?
Brenda Brunk: It's very difficult, because there are so many different options, as far as glazing technology and your framing components. What we really do, is we provide NFRC data and U-Values in solar heat gain coefficients, so that our customer can really understand what's applicable to their area, especially in the passive realm.
Tom Kraeutler: Of course, the NFRC label is helpful. That's the National Fenestration Rating Council label. If you were to use that and nothing else, could you make a side by side comparison that would be fair?
Brenda Brunk: I think you could, using the numbers. We would definitely provide those numbers to a customer, to be able to evaluate the performance based on the products that they may have in their portfolio selection. It definitely does help to have the credibility of NFRC and WDMA, and now with FIAS in some of our products, to be able to help sell that.
Tom Kraeutler: Talking to Brenda Brunk at Greenbuild 2013 with Marvin Windows and Doors. She's a product planner. What do we have to look forward to in the coming year in terms of new products and new technology? Anything you can talk about right now?
Brenda Brunk: We have a lot of things upcoming. There will be a few things releasing soon, and watch for them at IBS.
Tom Kraeutler: Terrific. That's the International Builder Show. Brenda Brunk from Marvin Windows and Doors. Thanks so much for being a part of the Money Pit's Top Products Podcast.
Brenda Brunk: Thank you so much for your time.