Shades, blinds, curtains, or any other window covering solution are often overlooked when designing sustainable and more energy efficient alternatives. Many construct thicker panned glass, promote outdoor shade with foliage, bring lighter colored furnishings into the space, or (in unfortunate cases) have the air conditioning in constant use. All of these options may be productive in some cases, but are they really effective for the long run? Probably not…

An option with greater efficiency has arrived—energy saving, insulated window shades showcase a promising path in sustainability. A recent study conducted by Illinois Institute of Technology has found that automated insulated window shades can cut energy consumption by ¼ and could have the potential in regaining the cost of installation within three to five years of use. This new architecturally efficient design indicated a 25% decrease in energy use in both warm and cool seasons. The new design can be installed in commercial, residential, industrial, and even municipal buildings for longer lasting conditioned environments. 

"In addition to the exciting findings of energy savings and payback period, this project served as a perfect example of the type of industry-relevant research we enjoy -- combining field measurements and computer simulations to evaluate a unique strategy to save energy in one of the most famous buildings in the world," stated project Co-Principal Investigator and the Arthur W. Hill Endowed Chair in Sustainability, Brent Stephens.

Currently, there has been positive feedback pertaining to the effectiveness of these shades. In fact, 80% of installed offices prefer the new design to old standard shades. This study not only provided a realistic prototype and solution for a more energy efficient alternative, but also gave way for students to develop collaborative skills on constructional projects. There has been further research going into the effectiveness of these shades under various atmospheric conditions–such as buildings that use natural gas, those in different climates and elevations, and with windows facing different directions creating either cross breeze or severe sun glare.