Shades of green: earth friendly window treatments

Shades of green: earth friendly window treatments

Last December, Pantone's expert panel named "Emerald" the 2013 Color of the Year, citing it to be "a color of elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance, and harmony." And while my push for "green" window treatments has little to do with hue and more to do with sustainability, I'd like to argue that Earth-saving window styles offer the same benefits as the color experts' chosen shade, enhancing a home's sense of organic well-being, balancing its energy output (and, thus, budget), and celebrating environmental harmony.

Below, I've highlighted some of the most popular eco-friendly materials to help you go stylishly green with beautiful and energy-efficient windows, no matter your interior palette.


photo via



Fresh fibers

Today's market is lush with "green" fabrics manufactured using fast-growing plants and sustainable practices. Organic cotton, silk, wool, linen, and canvas are ideal for eco- and design-conscious consumers.

Even burlap has made its way onto the scene, though not necessarily with the typical feed-sack aesthetic you might be thinking -- this inexpensive natural-fiber fabric has been elevated with all manner of embellishments, from pleats, ruffles, and smocking to dyeing and printing. And these materials can be crafted into a wide array of treatment styles.

Just be sure to look for Fair Trade Certified textiles, which are produced using ethical labor practices and environmentally sound methods.

  1. Roman shades lend clean and classic lines to a window while protecting against outside air infiltration (the idea being to block heat fromentering and cold air from escaping in the summer months, and vice versa in the winter).
  2. Floor-to-ceiling drapes not only boost a room's traditional feel, but also provide plenty of insulation. An inner lining and cornice lend added protection. Choose a light-color backing in order to reflect the heat of the sun away from the house.
  3. Cellular (AKA honeycomb) shades are made by pleating together two to three layers of material, creating pockets that trap air and prevent it from trickling in or out. Hang cellular and Roman shades snugly against the window frame but not directly touching the panes in order to form a buffer between interior and exterior temperature differences.

honeycomb shades

Natural notions

Interested in an organic aesthetic? Opt for roll-up, Roman, or matchstick shades fashioned from natural materials such as bamboo, reeds, grasses, and palm. These sustainable options can easily be combined with cloth draperies for a double layer of insulation, leading to reduced energy consumption and savings on your next HVAC bill. And since they often permit a good amount of daylight to filter into the room, these window treatments also allow you to take advantage of natural rather than artificial light.

Recycled goods

Savvy manufacturers are developing smart methods for creating much-loved Venetian blinds in an Earth-friendly manner, turning

to recycled sawdust and scrap wood as resources. The attractive, natural look -- for which wooden blinds are revered -- remains intact without necessitating the harvest of new trees.

Plantation shutters, which are ideal for shading casement windows, are also available in recycled composite materials. A handful of companies are even working on transforming plastic soda bottles into fashionable decorator fabrics.

No matter what makes up your slatted shades, be wise about how you utilize them: Block the heat of the summer sun by closing your blinds during the day (with the slats turned up to create a tight seal), and then welcome winter's warmth by opening the blinds during daylight hours.

Clear coating

Not all windows work well with coverings, because the views they afford are just too valuable (think picture and bay windows). In that case, seek out inexpensive plastic insulation film, which can be applied directly to the glass to diminish heat transfer. These coatings are also available in a variety of decorative finishes, if you want to add privacy or pizzazz. In addition, be sure to seal gaps around the window frame with caulk to reduce drafts and increase your utility savings.

Care to share the ways in which you've introduced shades of green to your home's windows?

Jay Harris is a Home Depot sales associate and contributes regularly to Home Depot's blog, where he provides advice covering everything from roman shades to energy efficient windows.

Read more about energy-efficient windows and doors.

Honeycomb shade photo via Flickr/Muffet

Topics: Going Green, Interior Design, Sustainable Products, Windows

Companies: The Home Depot

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