Dealing with natural sunlight can be challenging. Despite the benefits it offers – reduced reliance on artificial light, smaller energy bills, and increased health and productivity – if the sun’s UV rays aren’t controlled, sunlight can cause a lot of damage.
The sun’s UV rays can fade furniture, wallcoverings, artwork, fabric, flooring, and merchandise in window displays. Ordinary window glass offers almost no protection from UV rays; the Nejad & Strauss Gallery in Pennsylvania learned first-hand what UV radiation can do after placing oriental rugs and antiques near windows that weren’t protected.
If UV radiation can cause damage like this to valuable assets inside a building, imagine what it could do to your skin. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, being indoors doesn’t offer full protection because you can tan or burn as a result of rays penetrating windows.
Sunburns are caused by UVA and UBV rays, according to the American Cancer Society. Even on cloudy days, UV radiation can cause damage; up to 80 percent of solar UV rays can penetrate thin cloud cover. Just because you can’t feel the hot rays of the sun doesn’t mean you’re safe; harmful UV radiation can still enter through glass to cause damage. (The heat you feel from the sun comes from infrared rays, not UV rays.)
UV radiation exposure is cumulative, which means the total damage you receive is directly related to how often you’re exposed to UV rays. The damage this radiation causes could ultimately lead to skin diseases like cancer.
There are several options available for commercial building owners who want to control the penetration of UV rays to protect tenants and occupants. Curtains, blinds, and awnings are all options, although they block views and can create dark interior environments. Window film, however, can block up to 99.9 percent of harmful UV rays while offering an unobstructed view, allowing natural daylight inside to decrease artificial lighting requirements. Window films also reduce solar heat gain, which may lower cooling costs; low-e window films help keep radiant heat inside in the winter and outside in the summer for year-round benefits.
Have any of your building assets experienced fading or damage as a result of the sun’s UV rays? What did you do to stop it?