How Architects Spec in Materials

How Architects Spec in Materials Like Window Film

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Architects hold a lot of power when it comes to the appearance, safety, and sustainability of the world around us. Everything from the layout of a new office building to the materials with which buildings are constructed is in the hands of architects. But what influences the process for how an architect specs in materials? It usually comes down to a combination of the following factors: relationship, time constraints, and environmental initiatives.

How Architects Spec in Materials

Relationship

How architects spec in materials is a very relationship-driven process. More often than not, an architect continues to specify the same products, because they have developed strong relationships with the providers of their go-to materials. According to Architect Magazine, 41% of architects are professionally conservative. This means that as long as their needs are being met, they tend to remain loyal to their material providers. While this “don’t fix what isn’t broken” system ensures a consistent result, materials that are new-to-market are not often sought out. Instead, they rely on the relationships fostered over the course of their career.

Time Constraints

The second reason why architects repeatedly spec in the same materials is the time constraints associated with writing building plans. Writing specs from scratch is a long and tedious process. When in a time crunch, copy and pasting specs from plans that they know worked previously is more efficient than researching new options. If an architect doesn’t already know about a product before the planning process has begun, there will likely not be enough time to research and spec it into the plans.

Environmental Initiatives

An increasingly important factor in determining how architects spec in materials for projects is environmental initiatives. The 2030 Challenge issued by Architecture 2030 asks architects to meet fossil fuel reduction standards through better building practices and sourcing of materials. Energy modeling tools help architects assess and compare a host of variables that impact a building’s environmental sustainability. They equip architects with the data needed to convince other stakeholders that a particular material should be used over another or that a new-to-market product should be incorporated into design plans.

Specifying Window Film

Window film is not a new product, as it was first patented in 1966 by 3M. However, with the perpetual shift towards more sustainable products and processes, window film is becoming more and more relevant in the construction of homes and commercial spaces alike. Using energy modeling, the benefit of specifying window film to reduce energy usage as a piece of the sustainability puzzle is clear.

Environmental Sustainability Considerations for Window Film

  • Becomes carbon negative in as little as 6 months
  • Up to 97% infrared light rejection to reduce energy consumption and improve comfort
  • High visual light transmission to minimize need for artificial light
  • Payback in as little as 1 and a half years

These results come from multiple studies performed by 3M, the Department of Energy, and ConSol Energy and Environmental Solutions. If you’re part of an architectural firm who values improved sustainability, window film is a product that you should consider specifying into your building plans.

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