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Window-film magnate branches out into power generation

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By Vicky Gits

After 21 years in the energy-saving business, Judd Coe is one of the few people who is happy about higher energy costs, partly because it’s good for sales.

The founder and owner of A Solar Solution, Coe installs heat-fighting window film on homes, commercial buildings and government institutions. He runs the business out of his home in the Canterbury subdivision near South Kipling Parkway and Coal Mine Avenue.

Coe has lived in the Columbine area all his life and went to Leawood Elementary, Ken-Caryl Middle School and Columbine High.

A Solar Solution has installed window film in some 4,000 homes in the last two decades. Window film is used to reduce glare and heat without shutting out light. The company also installs bomb-resistant film, solar roller shades and anti-graffiti film.

In the last couple of years, A Solar Solution has branched out into photovoltaics, which are solar cells used to generate electricity from sunlight. Coe recently retrofitted his home with a solar photovoltaic system that he uses to power all his electrical appliances.

The system cost about $30,000 to install, but the expense was offset by a $21,000 rebate from Xcel Energy.

Coe, a self-taught solar expert, also recently completed a photovoltaic system for computers and lighting at the AlloSource tissue bank in Centennial, for about $78,000. A Solar Solution is a certified dealer for Sharp Grid-Tie photovoltaic systems.

The company covered all the windows in the U.S. Bank tower in Denver recently using 106,000 square feet of energy-control tinted plastic to cover 2,600 window panes in the 27-story building.

The job took six months.

“The tenants on the top floors were very hot. It’s an old building with single-pane glass, not insulated,” Coe said.

“Our tenants love the film,” said Ron Gallion, chief engineer for the building management company CB Richard Ellis and the building owner Callahan Capital Partners. Windows originally were covered years ago with a dye-based material that faded into blue and white stripes.

The look of the product is about 75 percent better than the old look, Gallion said. It goes from light bronze in the morning to nearly 100 percent clarity later in the day. A test showed the BTU penetration was reduced from 46 to 12, or about 75 percent.

A Solar Solution does 300 to 400 houses per year, Coe said. “But we have really made our name in commercial.”

The industry has come a long way since the ‘80s, Coe said. Window film used to be made with dye and had a tendency to turn an unsightly purple color.

“It kind of gave the film a bad name,” Coe concedes.

The new state-of-the-art material is “metal-ized” with vacuum deposition, rejects heat and can provide 200 SPF sun protection.

“The new thing is nano-ceramic, so it doesn’t disrupt wireless transmission,” Coe said.

Heavy-duty film for bomb-blast mitigation is becoming a popular option for security purposes because it prevents glass shards. (Bomb-blast mitigation film is 7 millimeters thick, compared to 1.l5 millimeter for a typical home.)

Coe has covered Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico and is currently working on the ground level of the City and County Building in in downtown Denver.