Volume 10, Issue 5 - September/October 2006

Threats to People & Property
The Passive and Proactive Use of Today’s Window Film
by Luc Goemaere

The use of window film today is significantly different today than it was 30 years ago. Advancing technology has brought new developments for our industry, affecting both the manufacturing and use of various types of solar and safety window films. Further, new threats to people and property from both environmental and non-environmental vulnerabilities are driving new demands from consumers. Manufacturers, professional installers, architects and interior designers should all be aware of the threats shaping the market drivers today.

The Calm Before the Storm
Consumers no longer consider solar protection a luxury; most are well-aware of the discomfort and health risks associated with solar heat and radiation. 

Significant mass media attention to the impact of global warming—which has caused very hot summers and strong temperature changes, all over the world—is a driver of consumer education about the need to protect against solar hot spots inside buildings. These hot spots are not only uncomfortable, they can be deadly for vulnerable groups of our population such as the elderly, hospital patients, infants and small children.

In the office, simmering heat many times decreases work productivity. Sometimes it seems impossible to keep the house at a comfortable climate. Greenhouses turn into real saunas. Food stores have problems keeping the excessive temperatures at bay. Customers stay away from uncomfortable car dealer shops, clothes shops, etc. Hotel guests complain about the heat in the room. Air conditioning units work at peak capacity, leading to high energy bills. 

In addition to solar heat protection, growing awareness of the dangers of ultraviolet (UV) exposure has given way to a strong consumer desire to protect not only interiors of homes and cars against the damaging effects of fading, but also to protect skin from UV radiation. Over time, this invisible carcinogen causes premature aging of the skin, eye damage, a greater risk of skin cancer and more. 

Architectural window films offer an efficient and durable solution to the above environmental threats. Moreover, the film rejects the majority of UV radiation, which is responsible for discoloration of carpets, upholstery, paintings – and damage to our precious skin.

The Storm
Tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are becoming stronger all over the world. These natural disasters cause millions of dollars in property damage and destroy thousands of lives. There is a growing need for people in severe storm zones to protect their families and employees from the damaging impact of flying glass shards. Last year’s Hurricane Katrina in the United States caused insurance companies to drop policies and increase premiums, not only in the disaster areas but across the nation. Again, very clearly safety films, or sputtered safety films (combining safety and solar protection) successfully protect people and property.

Protecting people, property – and consumers’ wallets.

Not only do increasing environmental changes cause threats to people and property, but they also have an effect on consumers’ wallets. 

Consumers face rising energy prices on a continuous basis. Increasingly excessive heat however goes together with more and more demand on cooling systems, which are run at peak capacity. 

Energy consumption can be lowered significantly with a high-quality and professionally installed window film, such as our Panorama® Hilite 70, which combines the capabilities of its advanced sputtering production process with the use of carefully selected raw materials and a unique layer of noble metals such as gold and silver. It is this unique ‘stack’ that blocks certain wave lengths of undesired solar radiation, while at the same time allowing a maximum amount of visible light to come through the windows.

Proactive Protection
Last but not least, as the world economy becomes more challenging in many regions of the world, small burglary trends and property vandalisms are continuing to rise. Commercial buildings, shop front owners and increasing numbers of homeowners, are calling on safety and security films to protect themselves against smash-and-grab attacks and vandalism.

One of the latest trends to which we are responding is graffiti in all different forms. Whether it is key-etchings on public restroom mirrors and stainless steel stalls or acid-etching on various surfaces on public transportation systems and retail storefronts, the need for a durable yet easily removable product that acts as a sacrificial barrier between vandals and surfaces they cover is growing.

By proactively installing graffiti protective window film, property owners have the assurance that when furnishings and windows are defaced they can easily peel away the vandals’ markings. 

What’s next?
Traditionally, the window film business has been driven by the manufacturer, to a much lesser extent by what consumers need. Yet it is these consumers facing the trends in our environment, who are ultimately our customers. Paying close attention to the environmental and social trends that drive demand in our industry is the first step to assure that advancements in window film technology can be utilized, proactively and passively, by the end user.

WINDOW FILM
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