Volume 17, Issue 3 - May/June 2013


The Top 20 List
What Architects Need to Know About Window Film

by Casey Neeley

Window films are probably a little lower on the list of architect priorities. They may be seen as an afterthought, a retrofit solution for older buildings or a detail dictated by building codes the general contractor will sort out. Window film professionals beg to differ, however. Here is what they think you need to know about window films and their benefits.

1. “One of the common misconceptions is that window film is that ‘purple, bubbly stuff I see on cars.’ Another misconception is that window film is just colored plastic, not a high-performance material. It is not widely known that window film as a retrofit item can be one of the quickest and simplest energy conservation measures available, as well as the most cost-effective. In regard to new construction, window film can be used as an energy-control boost to glass performance and/or to achieve a desired look.” — Tom Niziolek, director of sales and development, architectural for Woburn, Mass.-based Madico Window Films

2. “Solar radiation from the sun is divided into three components; visible light we can see, and infrared and ultraviolet rays which we can only feel. As solar radiation strikes a piece of glass, window film acts as a ‘sunscreen’ to block harmful UV rays as well as regulate the levels of heat and light passing through the glass. The amount of heat and light rejected is all dependent on the type of window film selected. They are the cost-effective alternative to tinted or decorative glass replacement.” —Sam Lee, president of Buena Park, Calif.-based Wintech Window Films

3. “The most important thing architects should know is how versatile decorative window film is now. By utilizing the available technology, the ability to customize film with a custom graphic or message makes decorative film a highly appealing option.” —Gus Arredondo, marketing manager for Ontario, Calif.-based AmGraph Group

4.“Window film is eligible for the tax credits approved by Congress and the tax incentive can cover up to 10 percent of the cost of the installation of window film to a maximum of $500.” —International Window Film Association (IWFA)

5. “There are so many types of different film for many different purposes including building envelopes, fenestration systems and security systems. Film can be applied to all commercial or residential settings and there are selections of films safe for dual-pane windows including storefronts, anywhere you want to block glare in offices and homes on any window, large or small. Films can also be used anywhere you need to protect interior furnishings and valuables from fading caused by UV damage from the sun.” —Lee

6. “Window film was originally designed as a retrofit product to enhance glass performance. It is a polyester based film that typically has a multi-layer construction. Products range from 1-mil to 15-mil in thickness. High-tech, high-performance films have revolutionized the industry in the last 10 years.” —Niziolek

7. “If architects contact the installer or distributor, that will help them. I’ve dealt with architects who said they wanted a specific type of film then changed their mind once it was installed.” —Rick Simon, owner, Ideal Glass Tinting in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

8. “Architects can use window films for retrofit applications for new, green buildings or renovations as an alternative to window replacement.” —Lee

9. “Most architects are not aware of the advancements that have been made in decorative film. Gone are the days of having to cut the film with a plotter to achieve any kind of custom graphic. The capability to print directly on the film in any color including white ink enables us to print any custom graphic or gradient in 1000 dpi high definition. The fact that the PET film is recyclable and environmentally friendly is certainly an appealing concept as well.” —Arredondo

10. “With more people choosing to stay in their homes and remodel them to accommodate their needs as they age, updating windows with window film will prevent UV exposure and allow natural light to penetrate the living space without harm. Window film blocks up to 99 percent of harmful UV rays.” —Darrell Smith, IWFA

11. “It is a more economical alternative to ordering and shipping huge sheets of tinted glass. It is also more efficient than glass installation because it is a faster installation.” —Lee

12.“Global energy conservation is one major benefit. According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), 40 percent of global energy is consumed by commercial buildings. Roughly one-third of the power consumption of a commercial building is due to excess load placed on HVAC systems from solar heat gain (SHG). High-efficiency window films can reduce SHG by 50-75 percent, often without requiring a drastic change in aesthetics from either the interior or exterior view. Window films help manage SHG by controlling the transmission, absorption and reflection of solar energy.” —Niziolek

13. “Communicating with the installer is important. We have to find out what the problem is; what is the reason you’re asking for this film? Explain the reason you want to tint and why you want to put the film on.” —Simon

14. “Architects should know that, with film, they can now have all of the benefits of custom glass without the inherent problems and cost associated with custom glass.” —Arredondo

15. “The State of California has become the first in the nation to add window film in the new building “code for 2014. This gives further legitimacy to window film as a cost-effective energy saver.” —Lee

16. “There are also several safety and security benefits for using window films. Along with personal safety, films also protect against damage to or loss of physical property (anti-intrusion, graffiti control), business interruption, and natural disasters (blast-mitigation, violent storms, etc.).” —Niziolek

17. “We wish architects knew that they need to know more about window film. It is gaining recognition over the years and we do believe window film education will become more comprehensive in the future. No one can argue the numerous advantages of window film over tinted glass. It is one of the most effective, economical methods of controlling energy costs.” —Lee

18. “In California, there are nearly 9,000,000 dwellings built prior to the energy building codes. By professionally installing window film on just 900,000 dwellings or 10 percent, ConSol [a California based energy consulting firm] conservatively estimates window film may cut a typical dwelling’s annual energy use by 10 percent. Taken together this could add up to 7,150,250,000-kilowatt hours. The savings is comparable to what three power plants could produce annually, or the conversion equivalent of 4,000,000 barrels of oil, according to ConSol.” —IWFA

19. “Because film installation is usually the last option after the entire construction or retrofit process is complete, architects may think it’s not necessary, but the numerous benefits that come from film are underrated simply due to lack of exposure in the architectural industry. The need for film is often realized later down the road, often due to complaints of glare, high cooling costs during the summer or the need for privacy. Do not let someone else take the job that you can finish off yourself.” —Lee

20. “Window film contributes to green buildings, specifically the US Green Building Council LEED program. It is the most often overlooked opportunity to save energy and money. Window film creates sustainable sites by controlling light pollution, provides glare and thermal control and regulates heat gain. Filming your windows is a simple, cost-effective and passive way to conserve energy and offset greenhouse gas emissions.” —Niziolek WF


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