Volume 42, Issue 10 - October 2007

the Farnady Files

On a Clear Day 
The Struggle to Get the Best Out of the Viewb 
by Dez Farnady 
The human race has always been enchanted with “the view.” We climb mountains to look down at the valley and when asked why we do it, the answer is rarely better than “because it’s there.” Come on, let’s admit it. We climb the mountain for the same reason we build towers and penthouses and try to get on top of anything that’s higher than the rest of the things around. No question about it, we have been hung up on “the view” since the Egyptians built the pyramids just to see if they could see Cairo on a clear day. 

While we all like high places, what we really like is living on top of one. The ultimate reward for a successful career is the ability to afford a place with a view. It does not matter too much if it is a view of the ocean on the Big Sur Coast, Central Park, the Golden Gate or Newark, N.J.—just so long as we have a view. 

Reflecting a New View
Unfortunately for most of us, our view is usually from someplace inside, from behind glass, through a window. What’s wrong with that? Well, just take a look. Maybe the window faces a southern exposure and we have to do something to keep the place from getting too hot, so mostly we close the shades. Or maybe the morning sun is too bright and we have to install some reflective glass. This also reduces light, but at night we can’t see the city lights. 

Under normal circumstances, we put in insulating glass and are surprised to see a faint reflective image from each of the four reflective surfaces. In a dark room on bright days it almost works, but the million-dollar view deserves better. 

Someone said the easy answer is to buy expensive non-glare or low-reflectance glass. Unfortunately, most non-glare products are made for the picture-framing industry. The low-reflectance product that is heavy enough for windows, really is not made for this application. The main market for that product is the storefront where it provides unobstructed view of displays from the outside looking in. These are expensive products and provide no protection from excessive heat gain. We need something that is made for the inside looking out and also can offer some energy help. 

The Million Dollar Question 
And, yes, there is an answer. The sophisticated products of today’s glass industry can solve nearly any problem. You can thank the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the auto glass side of the business for this one. It’s probably been more than half a century since PPG and LOF put Solex and EZ-Eye on the market. The purpose was to reduce heat gain in cars from direct sunlight while meeting DOT requirements for visible light transmission. This was the first generation of wavelength selective heat reducing products to provide high light transmission to satisfy the DOT requirements and still minimize unwanted heat gain. This stuff has been around probably since before the Corvair. 

How does that help, you ask? Simple. Pilkington’s blue-green under any other name is made in 3⁄8-inch thickness, allowing it to accommodate large picture windows. It is a high light-transmission product with excellent heat-reducing capabilities. Using single-glazed all you have sacrificed for the million-dollar view is the R-1 you would gain with one more piece of glass and the airspace. If you have the million-dollar view, a high heating bill in the winter is the least of your problems. I don’t suggest this for the entire house, only for the million-dollar view. PPG’s product for similar results is available with 3⁄8 Azurelite, with the color in both products being nearly invisible from the inside looking out. 

I have had the good fortune of being able to provide this type of product for some of the most amazing views in the western United States. One of the projects has a 180-degree view of California’s Big Sur Coast and the other looks from the Oakland Hills across the San Francisco Bay to the Golden Gate and from the Richmond Bridge to the San Mateo Bridge. Both views face directly into the setting summer sun without cooking the residents and provide an unobstructed view of the night, one without, and the other with, the city lights. 

Of course I am still waiting for the thank you note from both customers, but, what the heck? I got paid, and what else can we ask for? 

Dez Farnady serves as the general manger of Royalite Manufacturing Inc., a skylight manufacturer in San Carlos, Calif. His column appears monthly. Mr. Farnady’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.