June 2010

As a cost-effective alternative to window replacement, a new generation of window films offer myriad benefits.

By Jen Renzi


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Despite recent technological advancements in sun-protectant glazing, there are times when even high-performance glass needs an extra boost. To wit: a fashion boutique that Miami architect Rene Gonzalez designed for the new Herzog & de Meuron garage and retail building in South Beach. Gonzalez’s Starphire-glass box projects from the garage’s western edge, 70 feet above the ground, where it gets hammered by sunshine. Window film was the perfect solution for preserving both views and merchandise. “The challenge was sourcing a film as transparent as the glass, but that offered adequate protection,” the architect explains. He specified Huper Optik’s ultra-clear Select Acht film, which stops 99.9 percent of ultraviolet light, keeping garments from fading while significantly lowering the cooling load.

For many architects, window film is primarily a retrofit solution. “We consider it among a suite of strategies to improve energy efficiency in existing buildings,” says Chris Garvin, AIA, an architect with Terrapin in New York. “But I find that historical precedent has biased many clients against window film. Older versions blocked too much visible light, which made spaces dark and gloomy. Many compensated for those conditions by using additional artificial lighting, which offset any energy savings from blocked sun.”

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