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Volume 6   Issue 11               December  2005

Guardian to Launch UV Protecting Glass Product

by Ellen Giard and Tara Taffera

Guardian Industries of Auburn Hills, Mich., is launching a brand new product, ClimaGuard SPF™, designed to not only provide comfort and energy savings, but fade protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays as well. The official unveiling will be at the Builders Show, which will take place January 11-14, 2006, in Orlando.

According to Tim Singel, director of residential glass products for Guardian, homeowners are consistently faced with the problem of household damage caused by the fading energy of the sun’s UV-A rays.

“Fading is the result of a combination of UV radiation, as well as fluctuations in temperature and humidity,” says Singel. He explains that although low-E glass is already used in the majority of residential windows in the country, low-E technology does not address UV-A rays, which are primarily responsible for damage (i.e., fading). 

Recognizing the need to offer a product that addresses this area, Guardian began developing its ClimaGuard SPF glass, a non-contact coating applied during glass fabrication. The company looked at a variety of products including standard clear glass, spectrally selective low-E, laminated glass and after-market films in search of a solution for fade management.

“But none of the scenarios were commensurate with performance and cost,” says Singel, “so we had to find another solution.” That’s when the company chose to visit the textile industry. Singel says that the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists offers a reference standard that can determine the relative color fastness of fabrics-ISO 105-B01 Textiles-Tests for Color Fastness. The test involves a wool cloth, colored with blue dyes that have varying degrees of colorfastness. Light is filtered through various window configurations onto the cloth in order to compare the UV blocking ability of the different products. A control sample: black paper over the glass was also tested. 

According to test results, the blue wool sample protected by ClimaGuard SPF resulted in an imperceptible change in color after 40 days in accelerated testing when compared to the control sample.

“ClimaGuard SPF delivered nearly the same results as the control sample,” says Singel.

Test results show that ClimaGuard SPF offers 99.9 percent UV-blocking protection compared to low-E’s 76 percent and 43 percent with clear glass. It also has daylight transmittance of 69 percent (low-E, 71 percent) and 11 percent reflected glare (low-E, 10 percent). Other results showed a U-factor of 0.24 (argon) and solar heat gain transmittance of 0.38.

Singel says one of the challenges to overcome when selling to homeowners is that some might initially think that fading is only a problem in states exposed to the sun year-round.

While the official product release is not until next month, Guardian has been selling it for two years to Beta test customers.

“We’ve been very pleased with the Beta trial,” says Singel. “We’ve been working closely with a number of high-profile window manufacturers and we are very pleased with the progress.” 

Two of the beta test manufacturers, Gilkey Window Co. in Cincinnati and Soft-Lite Windows in Cleveland are pleased with the initial response.

Kevin Hillebrand, vice president of sales for Gilkey, says the company has a long-standing relationship with Guardian, which made it interested in selling this newest product. 

“This is absolutely revolutionary,” says Hillebrand, when referring to ClimaGuard.

This is why that, even though in the test phase, Gilkey decided to present it to all of its customers.

While many homeowners were intrigued by the promises of protection against fading, Hillebrand says there were a few drawbacks. “Some window companies told homeowners that low-E glass offers superior protection,” he says.

“People are really stunned when I tell them that’s not the case then tell them about ClimaGuard.”

“Some homeowners who have had, say 11 years of UV exposure, know how bad the fading is because they’ve seen it in their furnishings,” says Hillebrand.

“In the replacement market, this is almost a slam dunk,” adds Singel. “In that market, it’s all about options.”

Companies like Gilkey have indeed found that there is incredible interest in the replacement market. In less than one year, ClimaGuard already comprises 65 percent of Gilkey’s sales, according to Hillebrand, who admits he is surprised it is that high.

“We thought we would be at 50 percent,” he says.

He adds that the company’s goal is to have ClimaGuard be a standard product on all of its windows by the second quarter of 2006.

Roy Anderson, president of Soft-Lite Windows, has also tested ClimaGuard, and says the decision to market the product was an easy one. Anderson says that after visiting Guardian’s research and development center he saw the potential.

“As soon as I saw it, I immediately said I want to sell it,” he says.

“If you don’t have expensive furnishings and you’re more concerned about energy efficiency then you may not want this,” says Anderson. “But if it is priced accordingly, then most people are receptive to it.”

He adds that a product like ClimaGuard is overdue.

“This is revolutionary in the sense of the way it is applied to the glass,” he says. 

Unlike Gilkey, Soft-Lite has only launched ClimaGuard to five of its dealers but when new customers sign on the company encourages them to use ClimaGuard, which many have opted to do, says Anderson. 

The company opted not to sell it to all of its dealers due to some initial constraints such as size limitation and use with tempered products. But he adds that the problems will be fixed, according to Guardian, by the official launch, and the company will then market it to all of its dealers. 

“Manufacturing limitations experienced with the early ship/pilot program will not be experienced at full commercialization,” confirms Singel. 

Like Gilkey, Soft-Lite would eventually like to see ClimaGuard as standard on all of its products. 

“This is a fantastic product—it offers the total package and UV blocking,” says Anderson. “You don’t go to the beach without blocker on so why would you not put it on your house?”

According to Singel, Guardian has received great interest from various window manufacturers. This means more competition for companies like Gilkey, but Hillebrand doesn’t seem to be worried.

“That will be a challenge but it will be good for the industry to have more people offering this product,” he says. 

Ellen Giard is a contributing editor and Tara Taffera is the publisher/editor of DWM magazine.

© Copyright 2005 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.