Energy efficiency is one of the most publicized, but least understood component of green as it applies to garage doors.
For many, saving energy tops the list of what is green. One can argue that high R-value is part of that thrust. The definition takes on dangerous dimensions in the garage, where different standards should be used.
The R-value of a garage door, must not be used as a true measurement of being green, according to Dave Martin, chairman of Martin Door.
A snug garage can be a time bomb waiting to explode, according to some experts.
Ralph Rangel, a senior technical staff member of the International Code Council (ICC), says proper ventilation of a garage is very important. He suggests that investing in a garage door or anything that seals up the garage from air infiltration is a “misapplied value. “
“If it's going to be sealed, this can create some problems,” Rangel said regarding the garage.
Based in Chicago, the ICC is a membership group dedicated to developing codes that help create better building safety and prevention of fires for commercial and residential buildings, including homes.
More experts agree with Rangel.
Dr. Greg Linteris, of the National Institute for Standards and Technology, describes a garage as a tremendous ignition source. He said how much a garage doesn’t leak air, is a factor in how combustible the garage potentially could be.
The ventilation or air infiltration of the garage appears to be gaining some momentum, as far as potential safety and fire standards. The state of California's mechanical code calls for ventilation requirements for any garage that has a fuel-burning appliance---especially stringent for new home construction---which is described in the code as “unusually tight.”
These safety requirements negate claims by some manufacturers in the residential garage door or window business, that having super high R values, with thermal breaks, double seals, or high-insulated value windows etc. is a benefit for the homeowner.
Unusually tight often translates into potential carbon monoxide danger.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists a number of cautions, involving the garage, in handouts outlining the dangers of carbon monoxide.
The outline lists sources of carbon monoxide as gas water heaters, wood stoves, fireplaces, gas stoves, generators and other gasoline powered equipment, auto exhaust from attached garages and tobacco smoke. It stresses that a key step to reducing carbon monoxide dangers is ventilation or air infiltration. See more details on the dangers of carbon monoxide at www.carbonmonoxidekills.com.
Michael Lavallee, chief building inspector for Daly City, California, said any enclosure made unusually tight---i.e. caulking, sealing the windows, and buying a garage door with a super high R-value---requires venting. He said anytime you put a fuel-burning appliance in a confined space with limited airflow, you create the potential for carbon monoxide. “The room needs to be ventilated,” Lavallee said.
An energy-efficient garage door may increase a energy efficiency rating, by some green standards, but it comes with an explosive or sickening risk.