Almost every office window has some form of window treatment on it, and in most offices these treatments are more likely to be a form of window shade rather than drapes. The shade, however, has a bigger role in life than merely looking good. The window shade needs to play an important role in helping reduce glare and solar heat gain. Did you know that the US Department of Energy estimates that buildings use 38% of all energy in the country and 67% of all electricity? Just imagine what a positive impact this will make on our environment if the total energy usage can be reduced by 5, 10, or 15 percent? Not to mention the positive impact this will make on your dental practice’s bottom-line through lower utility bills. Plus, if you’re trying for LEED certification, the right shade can help garner important Indoor Environmental Quality credits.
“But, I have a wonderful view out my windows! I don’t want to block that view,” you say. Well, there are ways to specify one’s shades and still reduce glare and solar heat gain and still keep the view. For example, a darker material will reduce the glare and improve the visibility through the shade, even when the Percent Open or amount of holes in the fabric is small. A lighter color fabric reduces the Solar Heat Gain but has a higher amount of glare. So, if you have a fabulous view out the windows of your operatories you’ll probably want to choose a darker fabric for the shades so offer your patients the best view and least amount of glare.
There are some new high-tech fabrics that push the envelope of solar management technology further. For example, now one can choose shade fabrics with metal on the outside that help further reduce solar heat gain. While there are aesthetic considerations when one views these materials from the exterior of the building, the energy savings can be worth the investment.