News Brief

Tenants Drawing the Blinds in Their Glass Buildings

New Yorkers may choose a glass condo or corner office for the views, but a new study shows that once they get there, they’re drawing the blinds.

Shaded Window Area by Direction of the Sun

Researchers found the amount of window area covered by shades or blinds hovered around 59%, whether the sun was angled at the windows or not. This suggests tenants leave the blinds down for other reasons, such as privacy.

Source: Urban Green Council
A recent report titled “Seduced by the View” makes the case that all those floor-to-ceiling windows that New Yorkers pay for with higher rents and energy bills usually end up covered by blinds.

In a small, rather anecdotal, study conducted by New York’s Urban Green Council, researchers focused on 55 residential and commercial buildings dispersed through Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Over three months, they collected photos of the exposed sides of each building and took note of the direction that the windows faced and the time of day that they were photographed.

The researchers found that, on average, blinds or shades covered 59% of these buildings’ window area, and more than 75% of buildings had more than half of the window area covered. Furthermore, tenants weren’t opening or closing the blinds based on the time of day: approximately the same fraction of window area was covered regardless of the position of the sun.

Buildings in the study were selected based on whether they were easily photographed from the street, and researchers only ended up with around 107 photos, but what they found seems to have a shade of truth. The windows that tenants pay a high price for often end up covered for reasons other than getting too much light; researchers suggest “perhaps it’s privacy, or the inconvenience of raising them once they are lowered.”

Considering all the well-documented drawbacks of over-glazing—from increasing heating and cooling loads to causing bird fatalities—the Urban Green Council says it may be time to rethink all that glass that just ends up as an inconvenience.



Published December 30, 2013

Pearson, C. (2013, December 30). Tenants Drawing the Blinds in Their Glass Buildings. Retrieved from

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