Energized Selling

August 11th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

Arm Yourself with Info to Sell Energy-Efficient Film

By Tara Taffera

Have you thought of entering the energy-efficient commercial window film market but wondered if that is the right fit for your company? There are a lot of great opportunities for your business in energy-efficient films. The major manufacturers do a great job promoting these products, along with the cost savings, and other benefits, such as increased occupancy rates, to building owners. If you are already in this market, do you take advantage of all the available materials to convince building owners to take a look at this film?

Manufacturers Supply Loads of Info

If you anticipate bidding on commercial film projects to save energy, many window film suppliers offer energy-efficient films (for the full list go to https://buyersguide.windowfilmmag.com/). Here’s a sampling of just a few of those companies.

On the Madico website for example, the company states: “By rejecting up to 86% of the sun’s heat, our solar control window films dramatically lower air conditioning costs in warmer months, and reflect heat back into the building during the winter months.”

Nexfil promotes its Grey Reflective film for commercial applications which it says reduces heat, fading and interior cracking, increases HVAC efficiency and lowers utility bills by as much as 16%.

Some window film suppliers, such as 3M, cite data from the Department of Energy stating, “window films typically pay back in as short as three years.” Its message to building owners also highlights the fact that its films can reduce electricity bills by as much as 10%, reduce temperatures as much as 9°F, increase the Energy Star Portfolio Manager score for a building and obtain utility rebates to help provide faster payback.

Some suppliers also have an Energy Savings Calculator for Commercial Buildings, including Llumar. Its Energy Savings Calculator uses the U.S. Department of Energy’s DOE-2 energy simulation program, along with average energy costs for the area, to calculate expected savings. “Simply select your location, glass type, building type and product type and we’ll show you how much you can expect to save,” states a portion of the company’s website directed toward building owners.

Not a Quick Process

While these projects can be a great boost to your bottom line, they can take quite a while to secure, according to Brad Campbell, president and CEO of Campbell, located in Orange County, Calif.

“Those of us who work in large commercial know that it’s arduous and can take six months to two years,” says Campbell. “It is lots of work up front to secure those jobs or even be in the running.”

His company provides a wide range of services, including window film and energy consulting; it operates the latter as a separate company—Campbell Consulting. He says he wanted to provide a giant handbook of a building to an owner so they could see all of the possibilities including return on investment, life cycle reports and more.

“These are the things decision makers need to see,” says Campbell, who points out these evaluations take a variety of building components into consideration, not just window film. “Some building owners get it and some don’t.”

Campbell entered the energy-consulting space as he saw consultants offering one-page reports not going into nearly enough depth. He built this business to fill that void (His sister company, Campbell Window Film provides installation services).

“We look at the entire curtainwall/fenestration system, the condition of windows, and provide a full report on the entire envelope,” says Campbell. “Our experience comes from 30 years of doing walks with ESCOs [energy service companies], and we have an amazing team we have assembled.”

Case in Point

If a building owner does choose window film to save on energy costs, before they move ahead, they often want assurances of the money they will save with real-life examples. For instance, Campbell applied 3M’s Night Vision 25 film to 225,000 square feet of glass on the five commercial buildings that are part of the HHLA in Los Angeles. The installation reduced energy costs by 10%, saved more than $5 million in energy costs, resulted in a yearly energy savings of 2,104,526 kWh, and a rebate from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Before installation took place, Campbell Window Film was tasked by the building’s management team with demonstrating the energy-savings and monetary benefits of installing window film.

“We did test panels, proof-of-technology tests and BTU readings,” says Campbell. “We ran an energy analysis for each of the five buildings and showed a huge potential energy savings. The results were analyzed and verified by a third party energy consulting firm.”

Data Speaks Volumes

When pitching the use of window film on commercial projects, building owners will almost always require hard data, particularly in California, a state known for its stringent energy codes. In fact, back in 2012, the International Window Film Association (IWFA) hired Mike Hodgson, president of CONSOL Energy and Environmental Solutions, to perform a comprehensive study that could later be used for those working with utilities and large commercial projects.

“The intent was to use this data in the California market to inform the regulators and give to the California Energy Commission and to the building industry in general as they have a great mechanism to get the information out,” says Hodgson.

“The other point of the study was to document the fact that it is helpful to install window film in existing buildings,” he says. “We presented it to utilities, including Pacific Gas and Electric, as they had rebate programs and were looking for studies such as this.”

But why was the study, “Energy Analysis for Window Film Applications in New and Existing Homes and Offices,” published in February 2012, needed when the IWFA already had data on the benefits of film?

“It turns out that California won’t look at studies that don’t use their formulas and standards, as they only pay attention to their own methods and definitions,” says Hodgson.

The effort was worth it, as window film ended up being added to the state’s building standards in 2013, including the California Energy Code, Title 24 part 6, according to Hodgson.

Hodgson does point out a few caveats. First, the research was performed based on old rate schedules. “As of 2018 California moved to a time of use rate so there is a different cost per kWh based on time of day. In this study it was a flat rate as they didn’t have time of use,” he says. “The simple paybacks will be shorter now than what was reported, and there are new films on the market. If we did the study over again the results would only be better.”

But what if you have a meeting regarding a possible film job outside of California?

In Florida, the IWFA commissioned CONSOL to do a sister report using that state’s methods. That study, “Energy Analysis for Internal and External Window Film Applications for Existing Homes in Florida,” was published in April, 2014.

“The math is different in Florida as there is no summer peak load,” says Hodgson. “There is a winter peak load so the approach to that audience has to be different.”

While such reports are currently only available for California and Florida, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you’re selling jobs outside of those states.

Darrell Smith, IWFA executive director, says “these studies are great door openers.”

“You can walk in a meeting and say, ‘Take a look– this will show you in general the impact window film can have.’”

As far as projecting savings for a specific building, association members have a licensed version of the association’s energy analysis program—Efilm. This is a version of the Department of Energy’s Energy Plus which offers a full blown energy analysis of a commercial building, says Smith.

Hodgson says you have to understand the pain points when working with utility companies. “For example, if a utility is running out of power at a certain time every month that makes window film
attractive,” he says.

The California study had a large focus on the retrofit of commercial office buildings in urban areas. “We were getting a payback of 2-4 years in mild climates,” he says. “In other climates we had a payback of 2.1 years with certain films. That was very eye-opening.”

Smith reports that the association is working with Hodgson to update the California study as factors have changed since 2012 when it comes to the state’s energy policy.

Smith reiterates that while his group can’t afford to conduct studies in every state, the available data always opens the door.

Hopefully, the information in this article will help you when you pitch your next commercial film job.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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