Spec Perspective: Zola Windows Are Aggressively Passive

David Sokol David Sokol

If eyes are windows into the soul, then windows can tell a lot about a building’s guiding ethics. In our new manufacturer spotlight, we explore why so many hearts beat green for Zola windows. Products by Zola open up spectacular vistas in multiple projects throughout the Architizer database, including the work of Scott Edwards Architecture and the Sunset House by Fuentes Design.

Today, company founder and architect Florian Speier gives us the history behind his “outstanding craftsmanship, great design, and the highest performance available” mantra, and reveals the products that architects are sourcing most right now.

Sunset House by Fuentes Design, Image courtesy Dane Cronin Photography

Name: Florian Speier

Age: 33

Title: Founder, Zola Windows

Location: Steamboat Springs, Colorado

How did Zola bring European manufacturing standards to the United States?

Zola started as a buying cooperative for my architecture clients back in 2007. At the time, I had a small office focusing on modern, sustainable design, which required large high-performance windows and doors. Having grown up in Germany and studied architecture in Switzerland, I simply took these windows for granted, but they were not available in the US.

ThermoPlus Clad

What Zola product have you used most frequently in your own work?

Extra-large lift slides. We can do huge lift-slide doors, and the size is really only limited by how to transport them. We offer these in a variety of materials, but my personal favorite is ThermoPlus Clad: an aluminum-clad, thermally broken, triple-glazed wood slider; the line features glass up to R-15. The Zola Idea House, which I recently designed, features three of these units, some as large as 11 feet high and 39 feet wide. The lift slides are especially striking when they open over a corner, or are combined with a post-free all-glass corner.

Zola Idea House

ZNC Window

What is your best-selling product, historically?

Our ThermoPlus Clad line has been implemented in numerous certified passive houses throughout the country. I expect this to change over the next year, as we recently introduced some pretty innovative new products intended for modern architecture—namely our new super-slim, Aeorgel-insulated, all-aluminum lines. There’s also a new generation of wood-clad windows, the ZNC, which is the first window on the market certified by both Passive House Institute in Germany and Passive House Institute US.

Sunset House by Fuentes Design, Image courtesy Dane Cronin Photography

What is most popular right now, and how would you explain the appeal?

Lately, we’ve been getting a ton of inquiries about our new quad glazing. Our two-inch triple glazing has helped many homes achieve their [desired] performance while maintaining outstanding clarity and visible transmittance (VT is 73%). With our new quad glazing we are offering a substantial step up in performance, while still offering 65% VT, which is twice as high as many American, double-glazed units.

Aluminum Breeze Panel

Is there a new or under-appreciated product that is poised to surge in the near future?

This is our Aluminum Breeze Panel. I really like folding wall systems, but in the past I shied away from them in my own designs, especially in colder climates, because of the many vertical dividers when closed. We recently introduced an aluminum folding wall system —Breeze Panels — which features panels that can each be four feet wide and 10 feet high and still boast our R-11 triple glazing. There’s simply nothing else on the market in this size category.