Volume 17, Issue 3 - May/June 2013
A Different Tint
As window film continues to adapt and find innovative solutions for energy-efficiency and glare reduction, could there be a dark horse in the architectural glazing market looking to render it irrelevant? The glass, which is electronically tintable, can be used in doors, windows and skylights with both commercial and residential applications. It can also tint in sections to reduce glare without darkening the entire room. Window Film magazine recently sat down with Helen Sanders, vice president of business development for Sage Electrochromics Inc., a Saint-Gobain subsidiary and manufacturer of electrochromic glass, to get a better understanding of the technology and its potential applications.
WFM: Dr. Sanders, could you explain electrochromic
glazing for readers who may not be familiar with the technology?
WFM: What makes electrochromics different than
window films or other energy-efficient glazing options?
WFM: Do you think more consumers will begin
to consider electrochromics as an option?
WFM: What would you say are some of the benefits
WFM: Do you think electrochromic technology
will become a major player in the heat- and glare-reduction glazing markets?
WFM: Do you see any common interests between
window film and electrochromics?
Casey Neeley is the editor of Window Film magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suppliers Say …
“Retrofit window films are recognized as the solution of choice for commercial buildings because they generate quicker return on investment than competing technologies,” says Tom Niziolek, director of sales and development, architectural for Madico Window Films. “Additionally, window films provide benefits for safety and security. For example, window films are designed to increase the shatter resistance of glass, especially with the heavier combined performance products such as safety-security solar control (usually 4- to 8-mil or thicker).”
Buis warns that cost may not be the first consideration for all consumers, though.
“This approach is reversed with architects,” he says. “Despite how cost conscious they are, they will always gravitate to the bells and whistles when it comes to building technology. This is why education is the key. Most architects are totally unaware of the wide range of window films available and their energy-saving properties. We must push to get our products in front of them. If they have it in front of them, they’ll use it. If they aren’t aware of it, they use what they saw in the latest trade publication, which is sometimes a new, untried product. They need to be shown that film gives them a huge color palette to choose from. The most successful dealers know that to move window films in those arenas, you must present it as an important part of the building infrastructure. Sell it as a capital improvement, not a retrofit product.”
According to Niziolek, though, it is unlikely a technology such as electrochromics will phase out window film anytime soon.
“Electrochromic glazing currently has a market position for energy saving glazing systems,” he says. “That position will grow as the technology advances and also costs go down. However, there is a large base of building stock and residential markets with glazing ready for window film. The benefits for window film mentioned above outweigh most other competing technologies and usage of window films will continue to grow.
“Electrochromic glazing is a very interesting technology, which is improving each year and gaining market appeal,” Niziolek adds. “The ability to create a high-performance, user-controlled, dynamic glazing system is an attractive option, but it is still fairly new to the market so time will tell its true impact on the industry. Window film has been, and will continue to be, a very viable option for years to come.”