3M Window Film Helps United Way Save Energy

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The Aloha, United Way’s building in Honolulu, Hawaii, is home to both the United Way and several other nonprofit tenants. As both a nonprofit building owner and commercial landlord, the United Way aims to use its resources as efficiently as possible, as well as to maximize the attractiveness of its space to potential tenants. Constructed in the late 1960s, the two-building complex includes a two-story and seven-story building, with approximately 15,000 square feet of windows. A renovation of the building in the early 1990s included the application of a tinted window film, which by 2012 had been in place well past the end of its service life and was starting to degrade. “When you’re a nonprofit, building aesthetics are not something you can put really high on your list of priorities,” said Kim Gennaula, president of the Aloha United Way.

“We’re working to get as much money back out into the community as possible. So it got put off for a number of years.”

Norm Baker, the organization’s Chief Operating Officer, explained the impact of the dark tint on rental prospects. “We had a couple of empty spaces in the building, and it became especially apparent that when you take out all the furniture, there’s nothing to see in the room except the windows. We were well-aware it needed to be replaced.” The buildings’ electrical air conditioning costs were also creeping up, highlighting the need for the United Way to find a better solution to control heat. “Our energy bill was really getting out of control,” said Baker. “We realized that energy use is one of the top things in our building that we have control over with the potential for cost savings.”


The United Way sought the help of David Leandro at Pacific Rim Glass Tinting, who began looking for ways to help within the organization’s budget. “I emailed my contact at 3M and asked if they could donate film,” said Leandro. “If they were to donate the film, and I was to donate some of my labor, I knew we could make it happen.

”3M was happy to help, and provided 3M Sun Control Window Film Prestige Series PR 40 to replace the existing film. This modestly tinted film helps to provide substantial heat rejection, helps to reduce glare and eye discomfort, and has a low reflection to enhance views. The film rejects up to 60% of total solar energy (66% on angle), and up to 99% of UV rays. Not only does this make spaces more comfortable, it can also help reduce fading of furnishings and carpet.

“It’s a much lighter film than their old film,” said Leandro, “so it actually brings more light into the building and makes office spaces brighter, while blocking more energy than the old film.”

While previous generations of heat-rejecting window films used metals and dark tint to achieve their purpose, 3M Prestige Series films use no metals, making them the first to eliminate the problems associated with metals, such as corrosion and wireless signal interference, while still providing excellent performance and meeting the industry’s highest standards.

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The Pacific Rim Glass Tinting team completed removal of the old film and installation of 3M Sun Control Window Film in a span of three weeks, one week ahead of schedule. The United Way has been impressed with the film’s aesthetic and the early reports of energy savings.

“It gives you a bright sunny feeling inside of the room — it was an immediate change in atmosphere,” said Gennaula. “We didn’t realize that something as simple as window film could make such a huge difference when you come into work. Now we have this beautiful, brightly lit, comfortable office to come into. The building is now more attractive from the outside as well, which has piqued interest in renting the spaces.”

In the film’s first month after installation, the building saw a 10,000 kilowatt-hour (kWh) drop in electricity use versus the same month the previous year. “People in the building are raving about how much more comfortable the spaces are,” Baker said. “It feels a lot more energizing.”

The United Way can also rest easy in the long-term performance of its new film, thanks to 3M’s reliable warranty and longevity in the industry. With 65 years of history in weathering science, 3M’s knowledge of window films is unparalleled.

Now, the organization is planning on installing photovoltaic panels and retrofitting its air conditioning system to add even greater efficiency.


“3M’s contribution means so much to our staff,” said Gennaula. “The staff does so much work to raise money and pass it back out to nonprofits that they sort of get lost in the shuffle. To have 3M say, ‘We want to make your work environment better,’ meant a lot to us. Now, with the added efficiency we can generate more money to go back out to the community.”

In appreciation of its long-term partnership, the United Way recently recognized 3M with the United Way Spirit of America Award for philanthropy, volunteer engagement and community impact. 3M raised $8.6 million for 135 communities nationwide through its “Every One Counts. Live United” United Way campaign, and employees volunteered 200,000 total hours. In addition to donations of products like window film, 3M continues to partner with the United Way in communities across the country.


About Interwest Distribution Company

Interwest is a provider of 3M Window Film, 3M Pro Series & Venture Paint Protection Films & 3M 1080 Series Vehicle Wrap Films & Meguiar's Car Care Products. View all posts by Interwest Distribution Company

2 responses to “3M Window Film Helps United Way Save Energy

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