Protecting the physical security of schools is now at the forefront of not only architectural design, but the building products industry as well. Today’s security measures must not only be highly effective, but they must also be pleasing to building occupants while creating a barrier for would-be intruders. Six new public schools in Reno, Nevada worked with their architects and a window manufacturer, WINCO Window Company, to provide a new and innovative solution that not only provides a powerful security benefit, but significant energy savings.   

During 2017, WINCO was conducting research for a new energy efficient window system with the University of California, Davis.  At the same time, the citizens of Washoe County, Nevada had approved funding for new schools and security upgrades at current schools. The chief of the Washoe County School District Police Department wanted to be intimately involved with the school design, as his department was responsible for school security. The Washoe County School District (WCSD) wanted windows that would provide visual security for teachers and students in the classroom in the event of a lockdown or “code red” situation.     

WINCO’s Gantt Miller, LEED AP, was already connected with the school district and realized that WINCO’s new energy window solution could also fit the school district’s need for added security. The new product, now called Transira™, consists of an automated shade system that can be integrated into the building’s integrated management systems or controlled locally by the teacher.  At the touch of a button, a teacher or school official can lower the shades throughout the entire school, including interior classroom shades and exterior shades.  This sudden action could confuse an intruder on the outside and provide precious extra seconds for law enforcement to react. The police department immediately saw the protective value of the solution, and the school district also liked the energy savings offered by a glass-encased shading system that could be adjusted to outside temperatures and weather conditions.  

Today, the school district has Transira™ windows in six of its new schools, Sky Ranch Middle School in Spanish Springs, Desert Skies Middle School in Sun Valley,     Michael Inskeep Elementary School  in Cold Springs, and Nick Poulakidas Elementary School and Marce Herz Middle School, both in south Reno. Students are enjoying the benefits of natural light and solar control, and teachers understand they have an essential tool to protect the students in the event of an emergency.  


How Transira™ Works in New Buildings 

Transira™ Prime Windows are designed for new construction, while the Transira™ Accessory Sash can be used for retrofits. Both Transira™ versions feature two technologies in one product:  a motorized roller shade preinstalled between thermal glass window lites, which is controlled by keypads or building management systems (BMS). The Transira™ system offers three key benefits:  security, daylight control, and energy savings, and health benefits. This latest energy-saving technology streamlines the installation process, slashes energy bills, and ensures security with the touch of a button. 

With its enclosed shades, Transira™ Windows provide an important health ideal for highly populated buildings such as schools:  an easy-to-maintain, healthier environment. Because the shades are encased in glass, they are protected from collecting allergens and germs, which is often the case with shades that are hung over the glass on the interior of a space.   

“Because of the pandemic, we have had to look at our surroundings with fresh eyes to determine how to cut clutter and make surfaces easy to clean, removing the possibility of spreading germs,” says Miller.  


Desired Attributes

The technical capabilities of the Transira™ systems are very project specific, designed to meet the requirements for each building’s intended purposes. Systems can be as simple as one unit controlled by a handheld remote to thousands of windows all automated by one central control system. 

In addition to daylighting, the shades play an important role in creating occupant comfort. Whether through environmental-based automation or BMS integration, the shades help maintain a consistent ambient environment without temperature swings.


Easy Installation 

New installation is very cost effective considering it includes both fenestration and window coverings. For small projects where wireless motors are used, the only trade needed is a window installer. For larger projects using wired motors or more advanced controls, an electrician and potentially an integrator if a complex installation is needed. Since no window coverings are required, product and installation costs are eliminated. 

Transira™ window systems can consist of a simple stand-alone system with options from basic controls to fully automated, state-of-the-art functionality to a integrated system that is connected with most building management systems. For schools, the mere ability to integrate with the building’s security system or code red protocol is a game changer.

Installation for retrofits is also simple and quick. The unit simply plugs directly over the front of the existing window (storefront, curtain wall, etc.) and fastens directly to the frame through the integrated wire chase. After the unit is installed, the wire is fished through and connected to the control panel. 


The Payoff

While working on the expansion plan for the school district, WINCO has been able to go back to completed schools and collect feedback on what users like about the system and what improvements they would like to see going forward.  All the schools opted for local teacher control of the windows. 

At Nick Poulakidas Elementary School, some elementary teachers liked the ability to control one side of the classroom separate from their class library so that they can take advantage of the natural light in the reading area, but not drown out the other student’s computer screens with glare. 

Maintenance crews are pleased to be able to put the entire building's shades down at the end of the day with the push of a button instead of having to put down every shade manually. 

“It’s awesome to drive around these buildings and see the teachers actively using the system! It gives the buildings a very clean, upbeat aesthetic and improves the ability to actually interact with natural daylight in a seamless, unobtrusive way,” says John Iffland, Product Specialist, WINCO Window Company.

As for the safety of students and teachers, Chief Jason Trevino, WCSD Police Department, said in a recent local television interview, "We believe in building up each layer of security to try and make it difficult for someone to get inside the building or the classroom." The Transira™ window system provides a critical layer of security for the windows.

The response from the school administration has been positive.  “The Transira™ window systems have received high marks for their energy savings, daylighting and temperature control, security screening, and classroom adaptability,” says Iffland. “The feedback that we’ve received from teachers and school district personnel has been overwhelmingly positive. “Since adding healthy daylight is as simple as pressing a button next to the light switch, they’ve found that rather than relying on artificial lighting, classrooms and student activities are more frequently illuminated by a warm glow of natural light.  With added security the windows offer, teachers can focus on what they do best—education.”