1 Comparative Analysis of Retrofit Window Film to Replacement with High Performance Windows By Steve DeBusk, CEM, CMVP Global Energy Solutions Manager CPFilms, a Subsidiary of Solutia Inc. Abstract Energy saving films are increasingly being used worldwide to lower building energy costs by reducing excessive solar heat gain through windows. This paper will highlight the comparative cost savings per dollar invested for retrofit of existing windows with energy saving window film compared to window replacement with new solar-control low-e windows. Introduction Since the early 1960 s energy saving films have been used as a means to reduce building energy costs. Energy saving window film typically consists of a thin (0.025mm, inch) polyester film substrate that has a micro-thin, transparent metal coating applied to one side. This metal coating is applied using vacuum-based technologies such as vapor deposition or sputtering. A second layer of polyester film is laminated over the metal coating to protect the metal. A scratch resistant (SR) coating is applied onto the side of this laminated composite that faces the building interior to protect the film during normal window cleaning. An adhesive layer is applied onto the film side that faces the glass and is protected by a removable release liner until just before the film is applied to the glazing system. UV absorbers are added to the polyester film layers, the adhesive layer, or both to protect from UV degradation. The appearance of film including color, the level of visible light transmission and degree of reflectivity are determined by the metal coating(s) used. Typical all-metal energy films can be silver-reflective, gray, silver-gray, bronze or light green in color. Visible light transmissions (VLT) can vary from very dark (10%) to very light (70%), and the visible reflectance can vary from the same reflectance as clear glass (8%) to highly reflective (60%). The ability of a glazing system to reduce solar heat gain is measured by its solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC). As expected from the variety of films available, the SHGC for window films can vary significantly, from 0.17 to 0.71, as measured on 3mm (1/8 inch) clear glass.
2 The Study Due to variations that affect a building s energy consumption such as: weather changes, changes in occupancy, additions of energy consuming equipment such as computers, among other factors, it is difficult to directly (through means of metering data) and precisely measure energy cost savings following window film installation. To more accurately determine the cost benefits of energy saving window film, a comparative study was conducted, using equest DOE-2 (see energy simulations, to evaluate four buildings in each of four climate zones, for a total of sixteen buildings with film and sixteen buildings with new window systems. Climate zones across the United States were selected, corresponding to the Northern, North/Central, South/Central, and Southern Climate Zones from the ENERGY STAR Climate Map shown in Figure 1. Figure 1 ENERGY STAR Climate Zone Map The four buildings in each climate zone were identical, except for the existing window type. The four different window types used for the existing buildings were: single-pane clear and single-pane gray (indicative of buildings built prior to 1980), and dual-pane clear and dual-pane gray (indicative of post-1980 construction). With regard to a building s windows, incident solar energy is either transmitted into the building space, reflected away by the glass surface and kept out of the building interior, or absorbed into the glass. A large percentage of the absorbed solar energy is transferred to the outdoors by convection (due to wind) and radiation. Single-pane clear glass provides virtually no protection from solar heat gain by rejecting only 19% of the sun s
3 heat. Single pane clear glass has very low solar absorption and solar reflection, and therefore, offers little in the way of solar protection. Tinted glass provides better solar energy rejection than clear glass, but at best is classified as a medium-performance glazing. While tinted glass is better performing than clear glass, it typically only rejects 35-45% of the sun s heat. Energy-saving films reject solar heat effectively by reflecting a greater portion of the sun s heat than tinted or heat absorbing glass, rejecting up to 84% of solar heat gain. While window film are often valued in warm climates for their quick payback, in 3 years or less in many cases, payback is often affected just as much by electricity costs as climate. Therefore, use of energy saving window films should be considered in any climate with above average electricity rates, as air conditioning systems are taxed in office buildings even during cooler weather due to the high solar load through large expanses of windows. LLumar R20, a 20% VLT silver reflective film, was selected for the study because it is one of the highest performing films in terms of solar heat rejection (81% on 3mm thick single pane clear glass), and is one of the lowest cost films available at this performance level. Low-E 3 (low-e cubed) windows were selected for this study as it is expected that they will be considered the standard to meet most energy codes in commercial construction for warm and moderate climates. Low-E 2 (low-e squared) windows block less solar heat than Low- E 3 windows and are often found in North Central and Northern climate zones, since they allow more free solar heat for climates with larger heating requirements. Conclusion Across all climate zones, energy saving window films offer a better return on investment than low-e window replacement due to the combination of solar performance and significantly lower material and installation costs ($3.00 per square foot for window films versus $40 or more per square foot for new windows). Over all four U.S. climate zones (which are indicative of most climate zones globally), for each dollar available for window retrofit or replacement, window film provided 6.6 times greater energy cost savings than total window replacement with new low-e windows. As expected, this ratio is best in the Southern climate zone (10.2 times greater savings with film compared to new low-e windows for each dollar spent) and South/Central zone (7.40 times). Window film even provides impressive results for the North/Central (5.5 times) and Northern zones (4.3 times). See Figures 2 and 3 in the Appendix for details. While total window replacement with solar-control low-e windows provides for good energy savings (average savings of nearly 10% of total building energy costs), it provides poor simple payback due to high installation costs. Retrofitting existing windows with energy saving window films provide total building energy cost savings averaging 4.8%, but range as high as 9.9% in the Southern climate zone.
4 It should also be noted that energy cost savings generated by the window film used in this study pays for itself on average 3 times during the expected 20-year service life of the film (average Savings to Investment Ratio of greater than 3), while it is entirely doubtful that the energy savings generated from low-e window installation would be able to pay for itself during its expected service life, as the average payback period for replacement with low-e windows in the study was just over 40 years. With these factors in mind, application of energy saving window films should be strongly considered in lieu of window replacement if existing windows are functionally sound (no or few failed seals, limited air leakage, frames in good condition), while replacement with new low-e windows would make more sense where windows are suffering from one or more of these failing conditions and window replacement is needed to maintain building integrity. About the Author: By Steve DeBusk, Global Energy Solutions Manager, CPFilms. With more than 25 years in the energy-efficiency industry, DeBusk developed energy programs for the State of Virginia and Hercules Aerospace prior to joining CPFilms in 1995 as the Technical Marketing Manager for Commercial and Residential Films. Since 2003, DeBusk has developed CPFilms Energy Solutions Program globally and has worked with Energy Service Companies (ESCOs), Performance Contractors, property management companies, energy management companies, and energy efficiency consultants to promote and implement the energy savings benefits of window film. DeBusk is a Certified Energy Manager and Certified Measurement and Verification Professional through the Association of Energy Engineers. Acknowledgements: Energy Management Associates, Inc. (EMA), a preferred energy auditing vendor to major utilities in the Northeast, provided their expertise and guidance to the author during equest model development and reviewed all models and verified the study results and conclusions.
5 Appendix All Climate Zones DOE Annual Percent Energy Star Total Annual Energy $ Estimated Estimated Savings in Climate Existing Existing Total Type of Energy $ Savings Cost of Simple Payback Annual Zone Glass Type Annual Energy $ (1) Upgrade with Upgrade with Upgrade Upgrade (2) of Upgrade, yrs Energy $ (1) Southern Single Clear $135,215 add Silver20 Film $122,991 $12,224 $36, % South/Central Single Clear $132,487 add Silver20 Film $121,822 $10,665 $36, % North/Central Single Clear $135,940 add Silver20 Film $127,862 $8,078 $36, % Northern Single Clear $142,397 add Silver20 Film $134,776 $7,621 $36, % Southern Single Gray $130,407 add Silver20 Film $124,633 $5,774 $36, % South/Central Single Gray $128,699 add Silver20 Film $123,367 $5,332 $36, % North/Central Single Gray $132,787 add Silver20 Film $128,806 $3,980 $36, % Northern Single Gray $140,278 add Silver20 Film $136,397 $3,880 $36, % Southern Dual Clear $129,870 add Silver20 Film $121,984 $7,886 $36, % South/Central Dual Clear $124,264 add Silver20 Film $117,084 $7,181 $36, % North/Central Dual Clear $123,853 add Silver20 Film $118,372 $5,480 $36, % Northern Dual Clear $127,276 add Silver20 Film $122,491 $4,785 $36, % Southern Dual Gray $124,589 add Silver20 Film $120,792 $3,797 $36, % South/Central Dual Gray $119,582 add Silver20 Film $116,153 $3,429 $36, % North/Central Dual Gray $120,231 add Silver20 Film $117,896 $2,335 $36, % Northern Dual Gray $124,695 add Silver20 Film $122,530 $2,165 $36, % All 16 Bldg Models $2,072,568 $1,977,956 $94,612 $588, % Southern Single Clear $135,215 Low-e3 366 $120,624 $14,591 $490, % South/Central Single Clear $132,487 Low-e3 366 $115,060 $17,427 $490, % North/Central Single Clear $135,940 Low-e2 272 $117,605 $18,335 $490, % Northern Single Clear $142,397 Low-e2 272 $121,308 $21,089 $490, % Southern Single Gray $130,407 Low-e3 366 $120,624 $9,783 $490, % South/Central Single Gray $128,699 Low-e3 366 $115,060 $13,639 $490, % North/Central Single Gray $132,787 Low-e2 272 $117,605 $15,182 $490, % Northern Single Gray $140,278 Low-e2 272 $121,308 $18,969 $490, % Southern Dual Clear $129,870 Low-e3 366 $119,935 $9,935 $490, % South/Central Dual Clear $124,264 Low-e3 366 $113,474 $10,791 $490, % North/Central Dual Clear $123,853 Low-e2 272 $114,763 $9,090 $490, % Northern Dual Clear $127,276 Low-e2 272 $117,408 $9,868 $490, % Southern Dual Gray $124,589 Low-e3 366 $119,935 $4,654 $490, % South/Central Dual Gray $119,582 Low-e3 366 $113,474 $6,108 $490, % North/Central Dual Gray $120,231 Low-e2 272 $114,763 $5,468 $490, % Northern Dual Gray $124,695 Low-e2 272 $117,408 $7,287 $490, % All 16 Bldg Models $2,072,568 $1,880,353 $192,215 $7,843, % Figure 2 Energy Savings Comparison, Window Film vs. New Low-E Windows Notes: (1) Annual Energy Costs include electricity and natural gas using equest DOE2.2. See Figure 4 for details of equest models. (2) Installed costs include all materials and labor, and include new frames for new low-e windows. In simulations, all windows were either replaced with new low-e windows or had window film added. Installed cost of window film ($/sqft): $3.00 from window film industry estimates Installed cost of new low-e windows ($/sqft): $40.00 from window industry estimates
6 Breakdown by Climate Zone Annual Savings Cost of Ratio Savings per $ Invested with Upgrade Upgrade Savings per $ Invested Film vs Windows Southern add Silver20 Film $29,681 $147,072 $ South/Central add Silver20 Film $26,606 $147,072 $ North/Central add Silver20 Film $19,874 $147,072 $ Northern add Silver20 Film $18,451 $147,072 $ All Climate Zones add Silver20 Film $94,612 $588,288 $ Southern Low-e3 366 $38,962 $1,960,960 $0.020 South/Central Low-e3 366 $47,965 $1,960,960 $0.024 North/Central Low-e2 272 $48,075 $1,960,960 $0.025 Northern Low-e2 272 $57,213 $1,960,960 $0.029 All Climate Zones New Low-e Windows $192,215 $7,843,840 $0.025 Figure 3 Energy Savings Comparison, By Climate Zone
7 Software Building Windows & Film HVAC System equest 3.55 build 4500 used in all building energy simulations in this study. Window Performance data used in equest was taken from the Window 5.2a v5.2.17a Program from Lawrence Berkeley National Labs Mid-size office building, 125,000 sqft 4 story bldg Square Bldg, all exposures same size, true N/S orientation 33% Window to Wall Ratio, all 4 exposures, 3,064 sqft windows on each exposure Windows, punched openings, with 3" overhang/side fins from frame on all sides Light-color horizontal blinds in use, 50% of the time Building occupancy primarily from 8am to 6pm M-F and 9am-2pm Sat, but some limited (10%) occupancy from 7am-8am, and 6pm-10pm M-F Lighting levels 1.25 w/sqft general offices, 1.50 w/sqft executive offices, 0.60 w/sqft hallways Average equipment loads 0.75 w/sqft Existing Bldgs all have aluminum frames with no thermal break Windows with film upgrades do not change out frame, still aluminum frames with no thermal break Upgrades to new low-e glass includes new aluminum frames with thermal breaks Existing Dual pane windows air filled New Low-e windows argon gas filled Variable Air Volume system with hot water reheat Variable speed drives on HVAC fan motors Air-side economizer, based on outside air temperature Supply air temperature reset based on outside air temperature Hot water reset based on outside air temperature Cooling Temp 74 deg F occupied hrs (8am-6pm M-F), 82 deg F unoccupied Heating Temp 70 deg F occupied hrs (8am-6pm, M-F), 64 deg F unoccupied Reciprocating Chillers, 0.75 kw/ton Natural Gas hot water boilers, 80% efficiency HVAC System fans operate 7am to 6pm M-F, 8am-3pm Sat Energy Electricity rates $0.10 per kwhr, no demand charges (same for all locations as model for a given Rates zone represents avg climate for zone and electricity rate avg for all cities in zone) Natural Gas rate, $1.20 per therm Climate Study was for representative city from each of the Energy Star Climate Zones Zones Evaluated weather data for cities within each zone and chose a representative city Used in each zone 2009 No. of locations Degree Days for IECC in zone w/weather For cities in zone Representative City Representative City Zone Zone data available Avg HDD Avg CDD HDD CDD Southern New Orleans, LA 2 South/Central Atlanta, GA 3 North/Central Baltimore, MD 4 North Albany, NY 5 Figure 4 Energy Modeling Assumptions
8 Window Film Cardinal Low-e3 366 (#2 surface) Dual Pane Glass with Argon fill used for Zones 2 and 3. Window size used 42" x 48". and Window Window 5.2 Program ID# 2157 E366-6.CIG Properties Cardinal Low-e2 272 (#2 surface) Dual Pane Glass with Argon fill used for Zone 4 and 5. Window size used 42" x 48". Window 5.2 Program ID# 2014 EE272-6.CIG LLumar R20 SR CDF window film used for the window film in this study. Window 5.2 performance data files used in equest models for all windows and windows with film. Window Performance Properties Used in Film vs. New Low-e Window Study All windows are 42" wide x 48" tall Existing windows have aluminum frame with no thermal break. Existing dual-pane windows are assumed to be air-filled. Windows retrofitted with window film would have the same frames and air-fill (if dual pane) as existing windows. New solar-control low-e windows would have aluminum frames with a thermal break for improved insulating performance. New solar-control low-e windows would also have argon gas fill for improved insulating performance. Properties below are "whole-window" values including effects of frame, not center-of-glass values U-Value (BTU/hr/sqft/deg F) Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) Single Clear Single Gray Dual Clear Dual Gray Single Clear with R20 Film Single Gray with R20 Film Dual Clear with R20 Film Dual Gray with R20 Film Low-E 3 windows (1) Low-E 2 windows (2) (1) Southern and South/Central Climate Zones, lower SHGC for improved solar control (2) Northern and North/Central Climate Zones, higher SHGC for less solar control (more free solar heat) Figure 5 Window Specification Details
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