Despite all the positives of natural daylighting, glare can be a huge problem.

According to the Whole Building Design Guide, published by the National Institute of Building Science, “The science of daylighting design is not just how to provide enough daylight to an occupied space, but how to do so without any undesirable side effects. Solar control solutions, including both exterior and interior shading systems, are thus an important part of designing a productive building.”

Glare reduces productivity, causes discomfort, and makes it difficult to complete tasks—especially visually-oriented ones. It’s a story we hear over and over, and a problem we’ve helped people solve many times over the years.

Here are just a couple of times that Draper threw glare out the window.

Heifer International
This story shows how glare can come from unexpected sources.

When the new Heifer International Center opened in 2006 in Little Rock, Arkansas, it was a marvel of modern sustainable architecture.

Among the features of the international charity’s headquarters are large, energy-efficient plate glass windows for passive solar heat and indirect light, and a curved shape to capture the maximum amount of sunlight.

These and other sustainable construction practices eventually helped the building achieve a Platinum LEED® certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. But when the facility first opened, a glaring problem emerged: Workers couldn’t use their computer stations on the South side of the building due to the sun load coming through those extra large windows.

“The architects did a great job designing fixed sun shades that help with passive solar control and glare, but with [the] building surrounded by water, we need additional help with the glare from the water,” said Erik J. Swindle, Director of Facilities Management for Heifer International. Swindle recommended going with interior window shades. Management agreed, but initially only in private offices on the south side of the building.

Over a period of 12 months Draper shades were installed throughout the facility.

“They are working very well,” said Swindle, “and many staff would not be able to function in the facility without them.”

Although there are motorized shades located in a conference space and tied into AV equipment, many of the shades are manually-operated to keep cost at a minimum.

When it was completed in 2007, the Heifer headquarters building was one of 45 Platinum-rated buildings in the nation, and the first in Arkansas.

Not Just Big Buildings
Glare isn’t just a problem in large buildings with lots of windows. It impacts small businesses, libraries, homes, even churches. In many of these spaces, glare control can be at odds with building aesthetics.

Take, for example, Plum Creek Christian Church in Rushville, Indiana.

“We have very large stained glass windows in our church building, which was built in 1912,” according to Carolyn Keith, who serves as the pianist and organist for Plum Creek, in addition to being a church trustee. “For years we have had room darkening blinds on the south windows. When they are pulled, they take care of the problem of the sun shining in on Sunday mornings.”

Problem solved, right? Not quite. It took care of one glare control issue, but another one eventually became apparent.

“We started showing Christian movies a couple of years ago for our congregation,” Keith says, “and we were always having to put black trash bags up on the west stained glass windows if we were showing in the afternoon.”

The church board discussed the matter and voted to tackle the problem and purchase a light blocking shade similar to what they had on the other windows.  Draper, however, had another idea. Why not use a light filtering fabric with view through and glare control benefits? That way they wouldn’t need to hide those beautiful stained windows in order to control ambient light.

To offer a less intrusive solution that would complement the appearance of the curved window, the church used Draper’s Bottom-Up FlexShade™ instead of multiple top-down spring roller shades.

The result was stunning.

“We are very pleased with the appearance of this blind which is light filtering and not room darkening,” Keith said. “It does allow the stained glass to show through, and I like that it looks like it is in a black frame. It actually accents the stained glass.”

For details on all the ways Draper can help you throw glare out the window, click here to go to our Window Shades pages and click on the “How  to Buy” button in the upper left.

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