Originally written by Madico Window Films for the IWFA “View” publication.
As eyes are the windows to the soul. Conversely, windows are the eyes to a beautiful architecture. Windows are character-defining features for any building – particularly in historical homes and structures that use stylish accents such as stained glass, transoms, arches and other complementary designs. Many things can be done to preserve a property’s integrity over the decades, but far too little consideration is given to the glass – the gateways – populating a building’s façade.
What’s being done? Many preservation architects across the country are attempting to preserve a building’s appearance and increase its energy efficiency by installing entirely new windows. While essential in some cases, this is a time-consuming and expensive task that can sometimes cause damage to the structure itself and take away from its historic integrity.
What should be done? Believe it or not, repairing and maintaining the original windows is often a more sustainable, cost-effective and less invasive option. Window film can be applied quickly to the vast majority of historical buildings, simultaneously preserving their authenticity, preventing damage to the glass, protecting interior furnishings and lowering energy costs. In fact, the U.S. Department of the Interior specifically includes window film in their recommendations for restoring or preserving historical buildings:
- Installing compatible and energy-efficient replacement windows that match the appearance, size, design, proportion and profile of the existing historic windows and that are also durable, repairable and recyclable, when existing windows are too deteriorated to repair.
- Replacing missing windows with new, energy efficient windows that are appropriate to the style of historic building and that are also durable, repairable and recyclable.
- Retrofitting historic windows with high-performance glazing or clear film, when possible, and only if the historic character can be maintained.
- Retrofitting historic steel windows and curtain-wall systems to improve thermal performance without compromising their character.
- Installing clear, low-emissivity (low-e) glass or film without noticeable color in historically clear windows to reduce solar heat gain.
- Installing film in a slightly lighter shade of the same color tint when replacing glazing panels on historically-dark-tinted windows to improve daylighting.
See more of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s guidelines on sustainability for rehabilitating historic buildings at nps.gov.