by Peter Davey
Window films have come a long way since 1966 when 3M Company was granted the first window film patent for a metalized solar control window film. Film types now include metalized, polyester, ceramic, optically clear, tinted, opaque, dichroic, architectural, interior designer, antigraffiti, nonmetalized (RF signal friendly), dual-technology, and daylight redirecting films. All have been engineered and manufactured to improve indoor environments, secure perimeter envelopes, or enhance building aesthetics.
Safety and security. News of school shootings and other violent events in our communities has ramped up demand for safety and security film installations nationally. Windows and doors fortified with strong security window films effectively impede break-and-entry. Frustrated by an inability to gain quick access, intruders tend to move on while alarms have sounded and first responders are on their way. A low-profile, high-performance measure of security, these tough, shatter-resistant films help hold glass in place during breakage, break-ins, severe weather, smash-and-grab crime, and explosions. The strength of a quality safety and security film, combined with an Impact Protection Attachment System that bonds the filmed window to its frame, offers the highest level of protection. Ultimately, the repercussions of not installing security window film can be costly at both a personal and financial level. Minimizing loss related to injuries and repairs to damaged property more than justify the investment.
Sun control. We all appreciate the benefit of natural sunlight shining in through windows. However, that benefit comes with problems, including excessive heat gain in warmer months, heat loss in colder months, drafts, and nuisance glare. Sun control window films can significantly reduce these issues and consequently reduce HVAC maintenance expense while extending the life of equipment. A quality sun control window film retrofit helps substantially reduce kilowatt hours of energy use per square foot of windows. Many of these films can be used toward LEED credits to help fulfill your LEED certification goals. Although budget constraints for educational facilities are daunting, a professional window film retrofit can pay for itself in short order. Depending on the specific film and application, return on investment can be achieved in as little as two to three years and is far less costly than window replacement.
Daylight redirecting. When planning methods to achieve energy conservation goals, consider reducing your dependence on artificial lighting. Highly engineered, daylight redirecting window films will redirect natural light as much as 40 feet deeper into a building. Facilities with abundant natural light have been shown to increase employee productivity, improve student test scores, decrease rates of absenteeism, and reduce energy costs. When combined with lighting control, these films can reduce your lighting energy use even further. Cost-effective integration into new or existing windows requires no extra hardware or infrastructure and little to no additional maintenance or special cleaning.
Indeed there is a plethora of window films available. Wise consumers will research and rely on the experts to help guide them to the most suitable and effective window films for their particular goals and application. Seek a professional who has training and support from a window film dealer and manufacturer with a proven track record in the field — one that supports robust warranties. A manufacturer’s authorized and certified dealer will help ensure competency relative to product knowledge, expertise, experience, and reliability for years to come.
Peter J. Davey is president of American Window Film, Inc., a 3M authorized and certified prestige window film dealer, located in Foxboro and Boston, Mass.