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Under the Glass: Innovation in sustainability

Cascadia rakes in accolades for its groundbreaking designs.

October 25, 2023  By Treena Hein


Cascadia Windows and Doors employs 120 people in Langley, B.C., making highly insulating fiberglass fenestration.

AT A GLANCE | Cascadia Windows and Doors

Location: Langley, B.C.

No. of Staff: over 120

Founded: 2008 

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Market: North America 

Plant area: 75,000 sq. ft. 

Product: Fiberglass windows, doors, window wall, storefront and cladding support sytems 

President: Mike Battistel

Cascadia Windows and Doors focuses on innovation and energy-efficiency in custom fiberglass glazed facade components and support products.  The company carries certifications from Phius, Living Building Challenge and Energy Star. It has collected awards from the Victoria Residential Contractors Association and Passive House. Cascadia carries patents for its Cascadia Clip fiberglass thermal break and its Universal Series windows.  It’s 825 Pacific Street passive house commerical project was shortlisted for awards from Guardian Glass and featured in the Q3 Glass Canada Great Glazing issue.

Multiple ground-breaking innovations, dozens of awards and steady strong growth – these accomplishments and more have marked the progress of Cascadia Windows and Doors since its start 15 years ago. 

The founders of this Langley, B.C.-based industry powerhouse were a group of building science specialists – observant and entrepreneurial specialists with a lot of experience. “We recognized a growing market need for cost-effective commercial grade, thermally efficient windows,” explains Cascadia president, Mike Battistel. “There were only vinyl windows on the market with limited durability and small spans, and aluminum windows that were durable and could provide big spans, but had poor performance. We knew architects and specifiers wanted to reduce building costs and dramatically improve a building’s overall energy performance, so we created a fiberglass commercial window that offers high energy efficiency. A typical aluminum window today is still at around R2.5, but with our fiberglass window, we are hitting over R7.”

To bring this window to market, the group decided to start Cascadia Windows with partial ownership investment provided by the original ownership group (they remain partial owners today and other investors have joined). “In less than a year,” remembers Battistel, “we could see the growth potential despite the looming 2008 recession.”

Yes, they were starting up at a bad time, but with their NFRC Certification Authorization Reports complete and offering a predicted product lifespan of 50 to 80 years (along with the highest recognized water resistance rating of 15 PSF), interest for these windows quickly accelerated. 

They were the first of Cascadia’s beautiful architectural fiberglass windows, doors and cladding support systems to enter the North American industry. At this point, Cascadia’s lines have been used in projects ranging from residential Passive House to commercial and multi-family buildings, including some of the most exciting and award-winning construction projects in North America. Cascadia’s main market is the west coast of North America, but it has shipped product to just about every province, territory and state. 

Innovation didn’t stop there. In 2011, the team launched the Cascadia Clip for exterior insulated walls, a new kind of thermal spacer. Five years later, Cascadia launched an early designed-in-North America Passive House-certified window, the Universal Series. 

The firm has also achieved certification from Phius (a sustainable building non-profit), Living Building Challenge Red-List Free (confirms the product does not contain toxic products) and Energy Star. Among dozens of awards, Cascadia has won the Victoria Residential Contractor’s Association Silver Award for the 825 Pacific Passive House in 2022 [featured in our Canada’s Great Glazing issue, Q3 2023] and an Innovation and Esthetics award from Passive House International in 2019. Battistel himself has won the Clean50 Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of B.C. Professional Achievement Award. 

The Cascadia team is now 120 people strong (80 of them in production) and the company is growing sales at about 25 percent per year.

Creating the universal
Designing the Universal Series was somewhat of a holy grail for the Cascadia team. They weren’t sure if any other North American company was trying to design a Passive House-certified window, but they knew the materials were all available and that they just needed to be used in inventive ways. 

Durability was key because these windows, intended for commercial buildings, would need to withstand high wind loads. “There were commercial PH windows made in Europe that we looked at but they were expensive and arguably less durable,” Battistel explains. “We needed to make a window that was stronger but also less complex to keep the cost down. Most of the vinyl PH windows have thinner frames to reduce conduction. We took the approach of adding strength to our fiberglass frame, then designed the frame in such a way to hit the U-values. We had to be very strategic to hit those numbers. We also had to modify the insulation types within the frame, and use IGUs with different spacer bars. The profile shapes also needed to be changed and how they were combined.”

To minimize conduction through the frame, the Cascadia design team worked with a PH consultant on modelling and made many slight modifications. With dedication over a few years, they achieved PH performance while still having the look, strength and durability required. 

The moment they achieved their certification will be remembered well. “It was a big day,” says Battistel. “Everyone was very happy, especially the key designers. Our performance ratings were pretty incredible, and our sliding door had the highest performance of any sliding door in the world, so that attracted a lot of attention. Passive House International congratulated us and the Canadian government recognized us and bestowed some grant money for starting production on this impactful new product.”

Within a year, Battistel and his colleagues decided to minimize production of its former window and door lines and focus on the Universal Series. The price point was not meaningfully more expensive than their existing products and a very cost-effective option for the performance offered. The series is now available with double and triple-glazed low-E IGUs in standard and custom waterborne paint colors that exceed AAMA 625 performance criteria. 

In 2018, Cascadia released the Universal Series window wall, using the same frame as their Universal window with additional components. The R&D for the Universal Series and window wall required taking on additional investment partners, but Battistel says that wasn’t hard to obtain. “The growth potential was clear,” he says. “More stringent energy codes are emerging now and that will make our products even more in demand.”

New product development
And innovation still continues at Cascadia. They’ve just created a Juliette balcony design for their window wall and a laminated glass guard on their Universal sliding door. It’s a solution for the many high-rise retrofits where concrete balconies are being removed. “An example of this trend can be seen on a senior living rehab project finished recently in Hamilton, Ont.,” Battistel explains. “They literally cut off the concrete balconies and put a guard on the outside of our large operable windows. It triggered us to design a standardized solution for new buildings. You could have a door instead of a window, which would give residents more light, airflow and connection to outdoor space, with a glass guard in front for safety. We’re very pleased this solution is being used right now at the Coal Harbour project, the largest PH project in B.C.” 

Project refinement also continues. The Cascadia team has just started limited production of a lift-and-slide door, which is substantially larger than conventional sliding doors. Meanwhile, sales continue to expand geographically and in size (more market demand is evident along the east coast of North America and in the southwestern U.S.A.). 

Getting workers is a challenge sometimes, but good pay and a good culture helps attract the best. “It’s a happy place to work,” says Battistel, “and there is strong pride here. We are building a product that is among the very best in the world.” 

Reflections
Looking at his company’s past and accomplishments, the most satisfying aspect for Battistel personally has been successful development from scratch of products that achieve unprecedented performance. 

“It’s amazing to have been part of creating a product that so relevant in the industry,” he says. “To go from having nothing of relevance available to having the Universal Series is unique. I’m also very satisfied and proud of having a company culture with high morale where we value integrity. We have many long-term employees, and of our original team of 10, one has retired; our first president and primary founder, Kevin Ganzert, and most of the others remain. It’s a great place to work. We have done great things and hopefully many more are ahead.” •


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