Creating an environment that is comfortable for tenants and welcoming to guests requires a holistic approach when selecting building products for both new construction and ongoing maintenance. Fortunately, the specifying process can be simplified by identifying turnkey solutions to common challenges in construction and design – such as sustainability efforts and cost considerations – that can help designers and architects achieve their project objectives. One multipurpose product that provides a variety of opportunities are window films.

Window films offer a solution to a number of challenges which architects and designers face today. However, as there are many window film options on the market, it’s important to understand the applications and benefits of every available product to ensure best results.

3M CRYSTAL Glass Finish. Courtesy of 3M Commercial Solutions Division

3M CRYSTAL Glass Finish. Courtesy of 3M Commercial Solutions Division

Increased comfort with a decreased cost

Due to location and design, certain structures are more vulnerable to potentially uncomfortable fluctuations in ambient temperatures. Whether it’s a 40-story skyscraper in downtown Miami or a senior living center in northern Minnesota, extreme temperatures can make a space unbearable. Steamy hot summer days with unrelenting sun exposure can quickly heat up a space, making the process of cooling a building with air conditioning inefficient and costly. Additionally, older windows or windows with low insulation can lead to bitter cold during the winter months by allowing warm interior air to escape.

Certain window films can provide a solution to this issue. Window films with insulating technology, such as 3M™ Thinsulate™ Climate Control Window Films, can help reduce heat loss in the winter months and heat gain in the summer months. Additionally, installing these window films helps reduce hot and cold spots throughout the space, maintaining a comfortable environment year-round. Furthermore, window films provide an alternative to comprehensive window replacement, saving time and money and reducing product waste.

Window films can also help buildings achieve their sustainability goals. In addition to providing increased comfort, 3M Thinsulate Climate Control Window Film is a low-emissivity product that helps improve the insulation value of a typical single-pane window to perform close to a double-pane, and a double-pane window to perform close to a triple pane. The film also helps protect furniture, floors, upholstery and artwork from UV rays that cause fading.

Naturally brighter

Another use for window film is for daylighting purposes. In an effort to provide a better experience, spaces where tenants or employees are present for long periods of time, such as offices or healthcare facilities, should endeavor to implement solutions that optimize natural light. Window films such as 3M™ Daylight™ Redirecting Film distribute daylight deeper into spaces and reduce the need for artificial lighting. These window films are installed on the top of the windows and redirect daylight upwards, diffusing natural light evenly and deeper into the building.

Having an abundance of natural light helps create a better business environment by increasing comfort and aesthetics. Remarkably, employee productivity, retail sales, student test scores and patient recovery time have all been shown to increase in buildings with optimal amounts of daylight. Maximizing natural light in a building also reduces the energy costs associated with artificial lighting.

3M Dichroic Blaze used in the Minnesota Children’s Museum, St. Paul, Minnesota. Courtesy of 3M Commercial Solutions Division

3M Dichroic Blaze used in the Minnesota Children’s Museum, St. Paul, Minnesota. Courtesy of 3M Commercial Solutions Division

Prepared and secure

Having a comprehensive and proactive security plan is vital in maintaining a safe facility. As a result, identifying areas that leave the facility vulnerable to intrusion, including windows, is key to increasing protection. Luckily, there are protective window films, such as 3M™ Safety & Security Window Films, that can deter entry and address safety concerns caused by severe weather or glass breakage.

Security window films are not impenetrable but hold shattered glass in place upon contact. For a higher level of protection, buildings can combine 3M Safety Window Film with 3M™ Impact Protection Attachment Systems for an added level of security. The attachment system bonds the filmed window to the frame with an adhesive or profile option, keeping the glass safely in the frame. Recent testing has shown that 3M Security Films & Attachment Systems can resist attack and deter an intruder for as long as two minutes, giving buildings valuable time to prepare during an emergency event.

Window films provide endless opportunities for architects and designers to optimize a building’s aesthetics as well as increase sustainability and security efforts. To learn more about commercial window films, visit