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Ultraviolet Radiation Transmission in Buildings’ Fenestration: Part I, Detection Methods and Approaches Using Spectrophotometer and Radiometer

Damilola Adeniyi Onatayo
Ravi Shankar Srinivasan
1 and
Bipin Shah
UrbSys (Urban Building Energy, Sensing, Controls, Big Data Analysis, and Visualization) Lab, M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Construction Management, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32608, USA
Winbuild Inc., Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Buildings 2023, 13(7), 1670;
Submission received: 12 June 2023 / Revised: 22 June 2023 / Accepted: 26 June 2023 / Published: 29 June 2023
(This article belongs to the Section Building Energy, Physics, Environment, and Systems)


Fenestration, comprising windows and other openings in a building, influences occupant health and well-being while also enhancing energy efficiency through optimized design and placement. Selecting glazing materials that block or filter harmful UV radiation is crucial, as is having reliable methods to measure their UV transmission. This research paper, which comprises Part I of II, conducts an exhaustive analysis of the predominant methodologies and associated challenges inherent in assessing ultraviolet (UV) radiation transmission and deterioration status in fenestration, with particular emphasis on the usage of spectrophotometers and radiometers. It details the economic and operational challenges associated with these instruments and the limitations they pose in terms of sample size and the impact of glazing material degradation over time. Additionally, the paper provides a comparative analysis of UV radiation transmission characteristics across different glazing configurations such as green or yellow patterned glass, laminate glass, clear glass treated with UV protection film, and float glass. The review identifies laminated glass material as offering the best protection. Although spectrophotometers and radiometers offer high levels of accuracy in transmission data detection, their adoption is hindered by considerable financial and operational challenges. The paper underscores the need for developing alternative methodologies that are economically viable, operationally less complex, and are capable of overcoming the limitations of the traditional methods of detection, which will facilitate optimal fenestration configurations for UV protection and energy efficiency in buildings. The proposed Part II paper will explore UV imaging, image processing, and computer vision techniques as potential alternative approaches.

1. Introduction

Particularly significant in the built environment is the fenestration industry’s involvement in the relationship between architectural design and occupant health. When it comes to a building’s energy efficiency and overall performance, fenestration—the method by which windows and other openings are planned and implemented—plays a major role [1]. Fenestration has experienced rapid expansion in recent years due to rising worldwide demand for energy-efficient buildings, which highlights the need for maintaining investment in R&D in this field [2].
Transmission of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is known to have substantial consequences for human health, is an important part of fenestration performance. Furthermore, UV radiation is important in evaluating the deterioration of fenestration glazing, which can provide useful information about the thermal efficiency of the glazing materials [3,4,5]. Because of this, it is essential to take ultraviolet (UV) radiation into account when choosing glazing materials and to provide accurate methods for measuring UV transmittance [6,7]. For the most part, radiometers and spectrophotometers are now used to determine UV transmission. Though radiometers can measure UV radiation at a single wavelength, their range is somewhat restricted. Spectrophotometers, on the other hand, are capable of measuring UV radiation at multiple wavelengths, allowing for a more comprehensive analysis. However, these instruments are often expensive and bulky, posing challenges to widespread use [5,8,9,10,11,12,13,14].
The urgency of developing innovative techniques for detecting and evaluating UV transmission in fenestration glazing cannot be overstated, and the importance of their applicability in determining the rate of deterioration of glazing used in fenestration cannot be understated. Such advancements would enable the early identification of potential issues, facilitate timely repairs or replacements, and ensure the ongoing contribution of fenestration to optimal building energy performance. In this context, the burgeoning field of digital imaging technology, particularly digital image photography, offers a promising avenue for exploration and development, as will be detailed in Part II of this review [8,9,10].
Digital cameras, with their dual capability of providing photographic records and functioning as light meters, are emerging as invaluable tools in the measurement of light pollution [11]. UV imaging cameras, which operate similarly to those used for visible light, display UV intensities over a specified area, thereby providing a wealth of data for various applications [12,13,14]. This technological advancement is mirrored in the development of UV imaging cameras. These devices, which operate similarly to those used for visible light, display UV radiation intensities over a specified area, thereby providing a wealth of data for various applications. The convergence of these technologies illustrates the increasing versatility and sophistication of imaging tools in the field of light and radiation measurement. The integration of digital technology and artificial intelligence, including computer vision, is becoming a significant factor in built-environment research, most especially in diagnostics, which is being bolstered by image processing approaches [15,16,17].
This review is structured in two parts. The first part is detailed in Figure 1 and comprises this current paper.
It offers a comprehensive examination of current methods, measurement instruments, and known UV radiation transmission measurements in fenestration glazing materials. This section aims to establish a solid foundation for understanding the significance and complexity of UV radiation transmission in glazing. The second part, which includes a subsequent paper to be published, builds upon this groundwork, delving into the latest advances in digital imaging technology and computer vision. It explores their capacity to revolutionize quantitative measurements through an in-depth analysis of digital imaging, UV photography, image processing techniques, and computer-assisted analysis. The overarching aim of this review is to enhance comprehension of the possibilities associated with integrating these cutting-edge technologies into the built environment, shedding light on potential applications for detecting UV transmission in fenestration.

2. Background on Ultraviolet Radiation in Fenestration

The radiation emitted from a variety of light sources, including the sun, light bulbs, and fluorescent tubes, spans the breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum, as shown in Figure 2. This electromagnetic radiation, a blend of electric and magnetic fields, stems from both naturally occurring and man-made sources [18]. The spectrum is divided into regions, characterized by distinct wavelengths, which define the inherent properties of each radiation type. Generally, shorter wavelengths correspond to higher energies, consequently deemed more hazardous. The higher-energy end of the spectrum, home to Gamma rays, X-rays, and UV rays, is perceived as the most potentially harmful [19]. UV radiation, representing a crucial segment of this spectrum, emanates from radiant bodies such as the sun or through atomic excitation in gas discharge tubes, often containing mercury vapor [20]. The sun is the primary source of UV radiation at the Earth’s surface, but the Earth’s atmospheric layer effectively attenuates biologically damaging wavelengths, hindering radiation with a wavelength below 290 nm from penetrating the Earth’s surface [21]. Though the sun is the leading source of incandescent UVR, artificial sources have been developed to emulate its UV component. However, these sources cannot perfectly mimic the sun’s spectral power distribution [22].
UV radiation, extending from 100 to 400 nm, falls within the spectrum range, being shorter than visible light but longer than X-rays. It is further categorized into UVA, UVB, and UVC [23]. This is described in Table 1. Despite being invisible to the human eye, its effects can be strikingly evident.
Figure 2. Overview of the electromagnetic spectrum [23,24].
Figure 2. Overview of the electromagnetic spectrum [23,24].
Buildings 13 01670 g002
Grimes [21] highlights that a mere 5% of the sun’s radiation that reaches Earth is UVR, with a predominant 96.65% being UVA and a meager 3.35% being UVB. This underscores the significance of UVA radiation, which, although less damaging than UVB and UVC radiation, can penetrate deep into the skin, causing long-lasting harm [25]. The time and place distribution of UV radiation is also fundamental. Diffey [20] discovered that the sun’s UV rays are most potent around local noon, with roughly 50–60% of the day’s UV received during this period. This pattern holds true across all latitudes, from tropical to temperate regions.
Table 1. UV radiation classification with ranges [23,26].
Table 1. UV radiation classification with ranges [23,26].
ClassWavelength (nm)
Ultraviolet C100–280
Ultraviolet B280–315
Ultraviolet A315–400
Numerous studies validate the detrimental effects of excessive UV radiation exposure on human health [7]. For instance, UV light can harm collagen, precipitating skin aging, wrinkling, and decreased skin elasticity [22]. Prolonged exposure to high amounts of UV radiation has been identified as a risk factor for the development of skin cancer [27]. Additionally, UV radiation can induce cataracts, corneal sunburn, and other ocular problems, as well as suppress the immune system [19]. According to a study by Lucas et al. [28], UV radiation contributes to 0.1% of the global disease burden, culminating in approximately 1.6 million disability-adjusted life years [7].
Mitigating the harmful effects of UV radiation necessitates limiting sun radiation exposure, especially during peak hours, and seeking shade when solar radiation is most intense. Considering that Americans reportedly spend about 80% of their day indoors, UV radiation needs to be factored in during building design [29]. Buildings that are energy-efficient and designed to minimize energy consumption for heating and cooling can also block UV radiation more effectively, especially through fenestration [30]. This can help reduce the amount of UV radiation that enters a building, reducing the risk of damage to the building and its occupants.
The type of glass used in fenestration can allow varying amounts of UV radiation to pass through, with different types of glass offering different levels of protection. Annealed, tempered, reflective, tinted, patterned, UV-blocking coated, laminated, and low-e coated glasses are the most commonly used types in the built environment [3,31]. According to Jelle (2013), glass can absorb, reflect, and transmit some portion of solar radiation, as shown in Figure 3.
The quantity of UVA radiation that is transmitted through glass depends on various factors, such as its thickness, type, and whether it is laminated or tinted [25]. Low-e coated glass, for example, has a thin transparent metal coating that reflects infrared energy during winter while blocking external shortwave gains during summer [33]. Furthermore, spectrally selective coatings are available that allow specific wavelengths to pass through while reflecting others. Low-emissivity (low-e) coatings, which are spectrally selective films, are designed to enable visible light to pass through while blocking IR and UV wavelengths [34]. The ASTM Standard D4802-02 (ASTM 2002) mandates that UV must be cut by at least 95% within the 200–400 nm UV range [6]. Research has shown that window films applied to tempered glass can reduce the transmission of UV radiation by more than 99% [27]. Still, the thickness of the glass itself has only a minor impact on the transmission of UV radiation [31].
Simultaneously, glass, despite its extensive use for glazing due to its outstanding optical properties, does not provide complete protection against UV radiation, a fact that is often overlooked [5]. Despite its advantageous properties, the primary disadvantage of glass is its low resistance to physical impact and exposure to atmospheric conditions, which can induce physical and chemical changes in the glass. Weathering and solarization, for instance, can modify the glass’s optical properties, such as its transmittance [35]. This principle holds equally valid for UV filter films applied to fenestrations. A UV film’s longevity is indeed finite, with the interior application of UV-protecting films on window glass usually guaranteeing a lifespan of between five and seven years. In stark contrast, the guarantee period significantly diminishes to a mere two years if the film is applied to the window’s exterior [36].
Given the crucial role that fenestration plays in building performance, it is necessary to monitor and maintain its integrity, as its degradation can negatively impact energy efficiency and occupant health. There are many grey areas in the research trends of ultraviolet radiation transmission in the fenestration industry and the built environment that primarily concern detection methodologies and the UV radiation transmission properties inherent to diverse glazing materials. In light of these considerations, the present study, denoted as Part I, undertakes a comprehensive and meticulous exploration of the spectrophotometer and radiometer’s role in detecting UV radiation transmission in fenestration glazing. The key objectives to be achieved are: (i) to review the existing methods of detecting UV radiation transmission in fenestration; (ii) to investigate the extent of the use of UV measurement techniques in fenestration; and (iii) to reveal the UV radiation transmission properties of various glazing materials.
Subsequently, a discussion on the methodology employed for analysis and a review of the existing body of research will be presented in Section 3. Section 4, on the other hand, will delve into the methods currently utilized for detecting UV radiation transmission in fenestration. It elaborates on the degree of usage of UV radiation measurement techniques and outlines the UV radiation transmission properties that are characteristic of various glazing materials. The conclusions drawn from this study and relevant discussion will be presented in Section 5 and Section 6 The expectations from this research paper are manifold. The research community stands to gain a comprehensive understanding of UV radiation transmission through fenestration, alongside insightful knowledge of the current glazing materials and detection methods. The findings of this paper could also shed light on the limitations of existing materials and methods, thereby highlighting potential avenues for technological advancement. Furthermore, the significance of UV protection for health and well-being is emphasized, enriching the discourse surrounding sustainable building practices and the design of energy-efficient buildings that prioritize occupant health.

3. Methodology

The study of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) transmission in fenestration is a complex and multifaceted field that requires a comprehensive understanding of the existing literature. To this end, an exhaustive data collection process was implemented in the current study, leveraging scientific research databases such as Google Scholar, Scopus, and Web of Science (WoS). An inclusive search formula—ALL (windows, AND ultraviolet AND radiation, AND transmission, OR detect, OR glazing OR glass, OR fenestration, OR solar AND radiation OR spectral) AND (LIMIT-TO (EXACT KEYWORD, “Glass”))—was devised to encapsulate central research concerns in this field. The expansive coverage and dependable nature of WoS and Scopus render them optimal databases for the present research [37,38]. The search parameters extended from the year 2000 to 2023, limiting the publication records to journal papers, acknowledged as credible and certified repositories of knowledge. The dataset was further fine-tuned to encompass keywords pertinent to “Glass” research areas, yielding 380 bibliographic records. These records were consequently pruned down manually to 79 key pieces of literature. Furthermore, as shown in Table 2, the criteria were developed to effectively decrease the number and difficulty of reviews and to help screen articles.
For illustrating the associations within the relevant literature, VOSviewer 1.6.19 [39] was used. This software employs co-occurrence clustering to identify high-frequency keywords, which typically represent central research issues. The network of knowledge pertaining to keywords associated with ultraviolet transmission in fenestration glazing is portrayed in Figure 4.
Figure 4 details the clustering relationship among the keywords, with larger circles denoting higher frequency and disparate colors indicating different categories. This denotes that research pertaining to fenestration glazing primarily finds application in energy transfer and ultraviolet radiation. This also extends to the detection of defects, optical properties, and degradation of the fenestration glazing. A flowchart of the review is illustrated in detail in Figure 5.
Scholarly collaborations among researchers, industry professionals, and governmental agencies foster expertise, alleviate the digital divide, facilitate grant accessibility, and enhance productivity. An analysis of authorship offers a deep understanding of these networks. A total of 357 authors contributed to the research corpus of 79 articles on ultraviolet radiation transmission used for the review. The research output strength of key authors in the field is depicted in Figure 6. A lack of collaboration among authors within the network map underscores the need for increased cooperation among researchers.

4. Existing Methods of Detecting UV Transmission in Fenestration

Identifying appropriate glazing materials is pivotal to achieving maximum energy efficiency in buildings, simultaneously ensuring the health and comfort of occupants. Information concerning mechanical resistance, acoustic insulation, and thermal transmittance are usually provided by glass manufacturers for their products. However, such information tends to lack specificity and omit specific data pertaining to the material’s behavior within the ultraviolet radiation spectrum [40]. Ultraviolet transmission serves as an indicator of the degree of protection or potential harm that a substance or material can offer or inflict when subjected to UV radiation. There exists a plethora of instruments for measuring UV transmission, each demonstrating varying degrees of accuracy and ease of use.
Numerous established techniques for quantifying UV transmission exist, encompassing the use of radiometers and spectrophotometers [3,4,5]. In order to grasp the magnitude of the usage of various measurement techniques in UV transmission in fenestration, the review shows a clear preference for certain measurement instruments over others. Spectrophotometers emerge as the overwhelmingly favored method, accounting for a substantial 89.28% of usage instances. This prevalence underlines the utility and efficacy of spectrophotometers in measuring UV transmission in fenestration. Conversely, radiometers, though still leveraged to a degree, are utilized less frequently, constituting a smaller 10.72% of observed instances.

4.1. Spectrophotometers

Spectrophotometers are instruments that measure the absorption or transmission of light by a sample at different wavelengths. They can provide spectral transmittance curves for glazing, demonstrating the proportion of light transmitted at individual wavelengths. Required for operation are a monochromatic light source, such as a xenon lamp, a sample holder such as a quartz or fused silica cuvette, a detector, potentially a photodiode or a photomultiplier tube, and a data analysis computer. These instruments can achieve highly precise and high-resolution measurements of UV radiation transmission. However, their operation is complex, and there is cost quite substantial. A spectrophotometer is comprised of two main elements, including a spectrometer that generates light at any given wavelength and a photometer to quantify light intensity [41,42]. The typical setup of a spectrophotometer is displayed in Figure 7. Included in the instrument are a light source, digital display, monochromator, wavelength selector, collimator, photoelectric detector, and a cuvette to accommodate a sample.
To quantify UV radiation transmission through a glass sample, the sample is situated in the spectrophotometer’s sample holder and illuminated with a light beam. The instrument scans the wavelength range of 280 to 780 nm in 5 nm increments and computes the percentage of UV radiation transmission based on relative transmission in the 300 to 400 nm range [3]. The standard protocol involves measuring the transmittance and reflectance of smaller samples (usually 50 mm * 50 mm) at near-normal incidence [46].
Several types of spectrophotometer devices are utilized in fenestration UV measurements, including the UV-vis spectrophotometer and Perkin Elmer Lambda Spectrophotometer. Figure 8 displays the distribution of spectrophotometer manufacturer varieties used to detect UV transmission in fenestration. The UV-vis spectrophotometer, a prevalent spectrophotometer type, uses light in the ultraviolet and visible regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. This device quantifies the absorption, reflectance, and transmission of a single-light wavelength as it traverses a sample. The light intensity after the sample passage is compared to the initial light intensity, referred to as the reference or background intensity [47].
A detector, which could be a photodiode, a photomultiplier tube, or a charge-coupled device, quantifies the amount of UV light that penetrates the sample. This detector generates an electrical signal proportional to the intensity of the transmitted radiation, which is then processed by a computer to produce a UV transmission spectrum. This spectrum displays the quantity of UV radiation transmitted through the sample as a function of wavelength. UV-visible spectrophotometers can be used to measure the UV transmission of a broad range of materials, such as windows, filters, coatings, and films [47].
Despite their ability to measure UV radiation accurately, spectrophotometers can pose operating difficulties for general users due to their high cost and the specialized knowledge required. Table 3 illustrates that these devices are typically large, not easily portable, and are constructed from sensitive materials requiring careful handling. Thus, they may not be practical for everyday use [48,49].

Limitations of Spectrophotometers

A principal drawback in the usage of spectrophotometers is the susceptibility of the measurements to variations in radiation incidence angles when measuring UV radiation transmission perpendicular to the glass sample surface. These variations affect the accuracy of these measurements; thus, there is a need for more reliable measurement techniques capable of accurately measuring directional optical properties [46]. The limitations associated with spectrophotometers, however, continue to grow. Specifically, spectrophotometers can only gauge small samples, generally a few centimeters in size, which may not be representative of the entire product [3,4,50]. Consequently, this raises concerns when considering materials such as tempered glass sheets, which may possess different optical properties from untampered ones. Further, coatings, which can vary in thickness or uniformity across large surfaces, are also of concern.
Another significant limitation is the considerable investment required for the acquisition of a spectrophotometer, especially for entities with restricted financial resources. The price of spectrophotometers varies significantly. The more basic models, such as portable spectrophotometers, can be purchased for within USD 9000, whereas the premium versions can surpass USD 28,000. Fully integrated systems including software can even exceed USD 40,000. As a result, the financial burden may be too much for small businesses, research departments, physicists, and organizations with constrained budgets [48,49]. Moreover, the maintenance costs for spectrophotometers can also be quite high due to the necessity of regular calibration and servicing conducted by trained technicians. Hence, the prospect of acquiring a spectrophotometer becomes even more challenging. Therefore, to address these limitations, there is an urgent need to investigate alternative techniques for measuring UV transmission in glazing materials, which are enumerated in Table 3.

4.2. UV Radiometer

The ultraviolet (UV) radiometer, a device designed to measure the intensity of UV radiation within a specific range of wavelengths, is a fundamental instrument in the field of UV transmission studies. This device is composed of a UV detector, which could be a photodiode or a photovoltaic cell, and a display unit that exhibits the intensity of UV radiation in units of watts per square meter (W/m2) [51]. Integral to the UV radiometer is a sensor, possibly a thermopile or a photovoltaic cell, that metamorphoses light into an electrical signal. This signal is then subjected to amplification and passed through a filter to isolate the required wavelength range, with the resultant measurement showcased on the device’s display, as shown in Figure 9.
The Robertson–Berger design is a popular choice for broadband-UV radiometers that measure ground-level UV radiation [55]. These apparatuses rely on a diode for detecting UV radiation and are procurable from several manufacturers including EKO, Scintec/Kipp & Zonen, Solar Light, and Yankee [56].

Limitations of Radiometer

Significant challenges persist in the widespread adoption of traditional radiometers due to various factors such as wavelength calibration, bandwidth, stray radiation, polarization, angular dependence, linearity, and calibration sources [20]. Their adoption at a larger scale is curtailed by challenges related to high cost, slow scanning speed, transportability issues, and rigorous maintenance requirements [57,58,59]. An additional alternative to conventional radiometers is Brewer spectroradiometers, which offer spectral values across the entire UV spectrum. These spectroradiometers incorporate a diffraction grating and a movable mirror, a duo that facilitates the scanning of all wavelengths within the UV range [55]. However, these devices face their own challenges, including high costs, significant weight (which can reach up to 84 kg when combined with a tripod), and a lack of mobility. Whereas broadband radiometers can cost a few thousand USD, Brewer spectroradiometers can amount to tens of thousands of USD [51]. Furthermore, like many scientific instruments, radiometers are subject to degradation over time, a process that can be accelerated when the device is frequently exposed to intense optical radiation sources. As such, a prudent approach to overcome this limitation could be to acquire two radiometers of the same type, with one having a calibration traceable to a national standards laboratory [20], even though this still shows as a limitation. Therefore, in light of these limitations, the exploration of alternative methodologies or improvements to the existing radiometer technology must be prioritized, as detailed in Table 3.
Table 3. Analysis of the shortcomings of existing UV measurement instruments in fenestration studies.
Table 3. Analysis of the shortcomings of existing UV measurement instruments in fenestration studies.
Spectrophotometer[3,4,5,31,50]Spectrophotometer can only measure small samples, typically a few centimeters in size, which may not be representative of the whole product.
[46]The performance data only account for conditions when the incoming radiation is perpendicular to the glazing’s surface, and this does not represent a realistic condition.
[48,49]They are costly and complicated to use, making them inaccessible to the average public.
[48,49]These devices do not have portability or mobility due to their large size and require careful handling because they are made of sensitive materials, which makes them unsuitable for everyday use.
[40,60]Possible interference from external factors such as light, noise, temperature, vibrations, dust, etc. may affect the accuracy and precision of the measurements.
Radiometer[59,61]They are quite expensive and complex to operate.
[20]Radiometers’ sensitivity varies over time; this variation is accelerated by frequent exposure to high-intensity optical radiation sources.
[57]Their large-scale deployment is limited by high economic costs, slow scanning, transportation difficulties, and maintenance requirements.
[62]They must almost always be custom-built for particular applications.

4.3. Overview of Studies Examining Ultraviolet Radiation Transmission across Various Glass Samples

The study of ultraviolet (UV) radiation transmission and absorption through different types of glass samples has been the subject of much research. These studies have employed a variety of instruments and methodologies, each tailored to the specific requirements of the research. Table 4 provides a comprehensive summary, delving into the character and dimensions of the glass samples, the instrument used for UV radiation evaluation, and the wavelength range of focus.
Most of these studies have employed spectrophotometers for the measurement of UV transmission and absorption, specifically in the range of 280 nm to 400 nm, which encompasses both UVA and UVB regions. Nonetheless, a smaller segment of these studies has broadened their measurements to higher wavelengths, up to 3300 nm, or have alternatively selected radiometers as their preferred tool. The glass samples examined in these studies show a range of thicknesses, shapes, and compositions, all of which impact their UV transmission characteristics. Some studies carried out comparative examinations, examining diverse glass types such as annealed, patterned, tempered, laminated, insulative, or luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) glass. The dimensions of the glass specimens varied among the studies, with lengths or diameters ranging from 1 cm to 500 mm. Specifically, Jelle [30] measured UV radiation transmission and absorption from 290 nm to 3300 nm for glass samples with sizes of 500 mm * 500 mm * 4 mm and 10 mm * 10 mm * 4 mm using a Cary 5 UV-VIS-NIR spectrophotometer. Igoe et al. [57] evaluated UV radiation (UVR) transmission from 380 and 340 nm and 400 to 500 nm on a glass specimen with a 1 cm diameter outer lens and a 1 mm diameter inner lens, using a monochromator spectroradiometer (model dmc150). Meanwhile, Duarte et al. [50] measured UVR transmission from 280–400 nm for annealed, patterned, tempered (toughened), and laminated glass using a photometer (UVA-400C, NBC, OH). Dawes et al. [4] evaluated UVR transmission from 280 nm to 800 nm for glass samples with thicknesses from 1 to 6 mm at 1 mm intervals using both a UV spectrophotometer and a radiometer. Moerhle et al. [41] gauged UVR transmission from 280–390 nm for insulative green glass, insulative blue glass, and insulative infrared-reflective sunroof glass with dimensions of 5 cm by 5 cm using a UV-Vis Cary3Bio Spectrophotometer. Parisi et al. [63] evaluated UVR transmission from 280 to 400 nm for clear window glass with thicknesses of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 mm as well as laminated glass, as shown in Table 4, using a UV spectroradiometer, model DTM300.
The UV–vis–near-infrared (NIR) spectrophotometer, an instrument frequently deployed to measure the optical properties of glass samples, was employed by Kerrouche et al. [64] to measure the UV absorption of luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) sheets with square and circular shapes and a thickness of 3 mm in the wavelength range of 370 to 390 nm. Similarly, Skandalos and Karamanis [65] utilized the same instrument to measure the reflectance, transmittance, and absorbance of small samples (10 cm × 10 cm) of amorphous silicon (a-Si) and crystalline silicon (c-Si) photovoltaic windows in the wavelength range of 280 to 2500 nm. Berardi [33] also leveraged a UV-vis-NIR spectrophotometer (model Cary 5000) to measure the transmission of clear and low-e coated glass panes with varying thicknesses (6 mm, 3 mm, and 8 mm) in the wavelength range of 280 to 2500 nm.
The financial investment linked with these instruments is also a significant factor. As reflected in Table 4, these tools are predominantly high-priced, with costs ascending to USD 49,970.48 [66]. This financial aspect may influence the choice of instrument and methodology. The study of UV transmission and absorption in glass samples is a multifaceted field, requiring the careful selection of appropriate instruments and methodologies. The diversity of the studies summarized in Table 4 underscores the complexity of this field and the need for continued research to further our understanding of UV transmission properties in various types of glass.
Overall, these studies provide valuable insights into the properties of different types of glass used for experimentation and analysis and highlight the importance of selecting appropriate instruments and methods for accurate measurements.
Table 4. Comparative overview of UV measurement techniques and instruments employed in fenestration studies.
Table 4. Comparative overview of UV measurement techniques and instruments employed in fenestration studies.
S/NReferenceMeasuring InstrumentMeasured RangeSample CharacteristicsDestructiveMeasurementFenestrationApproximate Price (USD) *
1[30]A Cary 5 UV-vis-NIR spectrophotometer290 nm to 3300 nmGlass samples of size 500 mm × 500 mm × 4 mm and 10 mm × 10 mm × 4 mmYTransmission and absorptionY19,990
2[67]DMC150 monochromator spectroradiometer380 and 340 nm and 400 to 500 nmThe outer lens is 1 cm in diameter, and the inner lens is 1 mm.N/ATransmissionN-
3[50]Photometer (UVA-400C, NBC, OH)280–400 nmAnnealed, patterned, tempered (toughened), and laminated glassN/ATransmissionY-
4[4]UV spectrophotometer (model UV-VIS 2700, Shimadzu, Japan)280 nm to 800 nm6 mm laminated glass sample, 4 mm and 6 mm tinted glass YTransmissionY8395
5[4]Radiometer (model PMA 2100, Solar Light Company, Glenside, PA, USA)280 nm to 800 nm6 mm laminated glass sample, 4 mm and 6 mm tinted glass YTransmissionY4291.75
6[41]UV-Vis Cary3Bio Spectrophotometer; Varian, Darmstadt Germany280–390 nm5 cm by 5 cm samples of insulative glass (green, blue, and infrared-reflective), sunroof glassNTransmissionN-
7[63]UV spectroradiometer (model DTM300, Bentham Instruments, Reading, UK)280 to 400 nmClear window glass with thicknesses of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 mm, laminated glassY-N-
8[64]UV–vis–near-infrared (NIR) spectrophotometer (Perkin Elmer Lambda 950)370 to 390 nmSquare LSC sheets with dimensions of 100 mm × 100 mm × 3 mm and circular LSC sheets with a diameter of ∅100 mm and thickness of 3 mmYAbsorptionN29,500
9[68]Thermo Nicolet “Evolution 500” double-beam model300–900 nm5 × 2 cm electrochromic windowYTransmissionY-
10[69]Perkin Elmer double-ray Lambda 25 UV-vis spectrophotometer300–750 nm3 samples of PLS glass N/ATransmissionN5598.40
11[70]Perkin Elmer Lambda 19-spectrophotometer300–900 nmMaumejean Fréres stained glassYAbsorptionY-
12[65]PerkinElmer® Lambda 950280–2500 nmA-Si PV and c-Si PV windowsYReflectance, transmittance, and absorbanceY29,500
13[71]PerkinElmer® Lambda 1050N/ASemi-transparent perovskite PVN/ATransmission and reflectionY29,900
14[72]Shimadzu UV-3102 PC UV-vis-NIR spectro-photometer and Perkin Elmer Lambda750 UV-vis-NIR spectrophotometerN/AGlass slides (3 × 3 cm)N/ATransmissionY14,500 and 29,500
15[33]Cary 5000 ultraviolet–visible–near-infrared (UV-vis-NIR) spectrophotometer350 nm to 2500 nm6 mm, 3 mm, and 8 mm for clear glass panes and low-e coated glass panesYTransmissionY19,900
16[73]Perkin Elmer Lambda 9300–2800 nmGlass sheets and composite glassYTransmission and reflectionY6500
17[74]UV-vis spectrophotometer (Hitachi U-3100)250 to 2600 nm10 by 10 and 75 by 75 (mm2) quartz substrates glazingYTransmissionY6300
18[75]Spectrophotometer (UV/VIS/NIR HITACHI UH4150)300 nm to 2500 nm4 mm thick standard glasses NTransmissionY-
19[34]JascoV-570220–2200 nmFilmsN/ATransmissionY6450
20[66](UV-vis-NIR) spectrophotometer (Shimadzu UV-3600)250 to 2500 nmThin filmsN/ATransmissionY49,970.48
21[76]Perkin Elmer Lambda 900300 nm to 2500 nmAntimony tin oxide (ATO) filmsN/ATransmission and reflectionY27,000
22[77]Perkin Elmer Lambda-35 Spectrophotometer300–1100 nm25 mm × 25 mm clear float glassNTransmission and reflectionY35,000
23[78]Perkin Elmer® Lambda 900 spectrophotometer300 nm to 2500 nmGlassN/ATransmission and reflectionY27,000
24[36]UV 4 spectrometer (Unicam, Dowlish Ford, UK)200–800 nmUV filter filmN/ATransmission and AbsorptionY1065
26[27]UV monitor (ELSEC UV Monitor Model 763; Littlemore Scientific Engineering, Dorset, UK)330–420 nmAU 75 UV SR HPR ultraviolet-absorbing film N/ATransmissionN345
27[79]On-site spectro-radiometer350–780 nmClear single-pane, clear + retro-ref film, clear + film A and low-e double glassNReflectionYN/A
28[80]Spectrophotometer Konica Minolta CL 500A360–780 nm10 × 10 cm2 glassYTransmissionY9999
29[81]Lambda 900, Perkin Elmer, Waltham, MA, USA; IFT: UV-3102PC, Shimadzu, Kyoto, Japan315–380 nmGlass and film specimen, 50 mm × 50 mmYTransmissionY27,000;
30[40]UNICAM UV/VIS spectrophotometer200 to 380 nm50 mm × 50 mm, 6 mm thickness types of glazingYTransmissionY1065
*—Prices are based on information available online as of April 2023, not necessarily from the manufacturer. Y = yes, N = no. N/A or - = not available.

4.4. Comparative Analysis of Ultraviolet Radiation Transmission Characteristics across Various Fenestration Glazing Configurations

The transmission properties of ultraviolet radiation through windows are significantly influenced by the types and configurations of fenestration glazing. These configurations range from single or double glazing, translucent or tinted glass to low-e or reflective coatings. An exhaustive overview of UVR transmission measurements in contrasting fenestration glazing configurations is illustrated in Table 5, and the transmission detail of the most commonly used glazing configurations in the built environment is shown in Figure 10.
The color of the glass is a notable determinant of UVR transmission. A comparative investigation of five diverse colors of patterned glass (green, yellow, wine, blue, and colorless) was performed by Almutawa and Buabbas [31]. The results showed that green glass offered paramount UVR protection, followed by yellow glass. Colorless and wine-colored glass manifested comparable attributes, whereas blue glass offered minimal protection. The thickness of the glass, another influential factor, has a subtle impact on UVR transmission. Investigations by Almutawa and Buabbas [31] and Duarte et al. [50] demonstrated that an increase in the thickness of the glass from 0.2 cm to 1.0 cm resulted in a minor reduction in the transmission of UV-A. However, the observed difference was not statistically significant, indicating the fact that the thickness of the glass has a negligible impact on blocking radiation.
Moreover, it is observed that laminate glass is superior in managing UV rays from natural light. Clear glass treated with a UV protection film also exhibits excellent control over UV penetration. Thus, recommending either laminate glass or a pair of clear and UV protection glass sheets treated with a UV protection film is appropriate. These configurations attain 100% and 96.7% UV protection efficacy from natural light, respectively [40]. As detailed in Figure 10, laminate glass provides a significantly higher level of protection against UV radiation compared to float glass. Laminate glass can block up to 99.9% of UV radiation, providing almost complete protection, whereas float glass typically only blocks around 35% of UV radiation. This significant difference in UV protection makes laminate glass a superior choice for applications in which high levels of protection against UV radiation are required, such as in buildings, vehicles, and other areas that are exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time.
Investigations by Jelle [30] measured the UV transmission of different types of glass, and the results indicated that float glass displayed the highest transmission rate at 65%, succeeded by low-emittance coated glass at 41%, and dark-silver-coated glass at 10%. The amalgamation of diverse glass types also impacted UV transmission rates, with distinct combinations affecting varying transmission rates, and with different combinations resulting in varying rates of transmission.
Tuchinda et al. [3] examined different samples comprised of monolithic clear glass, monolithic tinted glass, monolithic laminated glass, double-glazed clear glass, double-glazed tinted glass, double-glazed laminated glass, double-glazed spectrally selective low-e glass, double-glazed spectrally selective UV-blocking glass, double-glazed reflective glass, and double-glazed spectrally selective reflective glass. The findings displayed that monolithic clear glass had the highest transmission rate at 72%, followed by the double-glazed clear glass at 57%.
An exploration by Gomez-Perez et al. [82] into the UV-blocking properties of non-laminated and laminated glass of various colors indicated that clear non-laminated glass had the highest UV transmission rate at 62.8%, whereas laminated grey glass had the lowest at 0.6%. In another study, Max et al. [81] examined the UV transmission rates of different glass types and film specimens. The findings displayed that low-iron float glass had the lowest UV transmission rate at 88%, whereas standard double-pane insulation glass had a transmission rate of 48%. Standard float glass manifested a transmission rate of 63%, whereas low-iron float glass with an AR coating on both sides exhibited a rate of 90%. Low-iron float glass with a low-e coating manifested the highest transmission rate among the glass samples, with a rate of 43%.
Serrano and Moreno [83] performed an investigation to compare the UV radiation transmittance of different glass and plastic materials. The findings indicated that polycarbonate plastic displayed the lowest transmittance of 30% UVB in comparison to methacrylate and smoked glass. Intriguingly, the study revealed that the transmittance of UV radiation varied across all categories at various time intervals and during different seasons. Specifically, the results indicated that transmittance was greater at 8 h intervals than at 12 h intervals, and that transmittance was greater during the winter months than during the summer months.
These studies collectively demonstrate that colorless glass generally transmits more UV radiation than tinted or reflective glasses, and that the combination of different glass types can also influence UV transmission rates. Furthermore, the utilization of coatings and their lamination can significantly affect UV transmission rates. Comprehending the UV transmission properties of various glass types is pivotal for formulating effective strategies for UV protection in a variety of building settings and for choosing appropriate materials for UV-sensitive applications. This understanding is also paramount for the evolution of energy-efficient building designs and the progression of photovoltaic technologies.

5. Discussion

5.1. Economic Implications

Procuring and maintaining the principal apparatuses for UV transmission evaluation, namely, spectrophotometers and radiometers, poses a significant financial burden. The upfront investment for these instruments spans a broad spectrum, starting from a moderate USD 9000 for basic spectrophotometers to a staggering USD 40,000 for advanced models. The pricing pattern follows suit for radiometers, with elite models such as Brewer spectroradiometers commanding a premium in the tens of thousands of USD [4,66]. This financial barrier may discourage entities of limited financial means, including independent scholars, small-scale businesses, or philanthropic organizations, from acquiring these instruments. Consequently, this could lead to a decrease in the availability and distribution of UV transmission data, thereby impeding progress in fenestration degradation studies. The impact on energy efficiency and building overall performance cannot be understated. Moreover, these instruments necessitate recurrent calibration and servicing by certified professionals to assure precise and dependable measurements, amplifying the aggregate cost of ownership [49,84]. The prohibitive pricing of these tools not only curtails their use but also hampers innovation and progress in the domain of UV transmission evaluation in fenestration. Thus, it is essential to investigate alternative methodologies for UV transmission assessment that are economically viable.

5.2. Operational Challenges of Spectrophotometers and Radiometers

The intricacy and sophistication of spectrophotometers introduce formidable operability issues. Operating these devices necessitates a thorough grasp of spectrophotometry principles, device constituents, calibration protocols, sample preparation, and wavelength modifications. This daunting learning curve makes these instruments unsuitable for typical users, such as building owners, architects, or facility managers, who may lack the necessary technical expertise. The consequence of this is that these users might struggle with obtaining dependable UV transmission data for glazing materials, potentially adversely influencing their choice-making process during material selection for their projects or maintenance needs. In addition, the bulky size and limited portability of spectrophotometers, combined with their fragile components necessitating careful handling, contribute to their inconvenient and time-consuming nature of operation [48,49]. Spectrophotometers also require a rigorous setup process, including aligning the light source and detector and scanning the whole wavelength range in small intervals. This tedious procedure can be particularly problematic when dealing with multiple samples or when quick measurements are needed, such as in quality control or large-scale testing scenarios. Radiometers, although they generally have faster setup time than spectrophotometers, may still have slow scanning speeds, depending on the type and model of the device [58].

5.3. Sample Size and Uneven Glazing Material Degradation over Time

Another limitation of spectrophotometer-based UV transmission measurements is the degradation of glazing materials over time. The degradation of glazing materials complicates this issue further, as the UV transmission properties of materials can vary significantly throughout their lifespan due to factors such as aging, weathering, and exposure to environmental conditions [35,36]. Spectrophotometers typically require small samples for analysis, which may not accurately represent the entire product [3,31]. These samples, generally a few centimeters across, might not capture the complete characteristics or variations of the glazing material. For instance, architectural elements such as windows or façade components in buildings can possess different dimensions and coatings or treatments that might not be uniformly distributed on the surface. Hence, using small samples for evaluations might not provide a comprehensive or reliable reflection of the fenestration’s UV radiation transmission capacity [5,50]. This limitation also undermines the practicability of the results derived from spectrophotometer evaluations. Since the measurements are based on small samples, it is difficult to evaluate how the material will behave in real-world situations and on larger surface areas.

5.4. Ultraviolet Radiation Transmission Characteristics

Glazing configurations such as green or yellow patterned glass, laminate glass, and clear glass treated with UV protection film exhibit high efficiency in UV radiation blocking. Considering its capacity to block up to 99.9% of UV radiation, laminate glass merits attention among the glazing options. Simultaneously, the UVR-blocking attributes of green glass are noteworthy. The effectiveness of green glass, when coupled with UV-protected clear glass, is significantly amplified, making it an ideal choice for applications necessitating rigorous UV protection. Conversely, float glass configurations stand out for their high UVR transmission rates and corresponding insufficient protection, as substantiated by multiple studies [3,30,81,82]. For instance, clear non-laminated glass and low-iron float glass have been observed to exhibit UVR transmission rates of 62.8% and 88%, respectively. Considering these findings, it is evident that an optimal fenestration configuration’s selection must not only involve choosing suitable glazing but also understanding the intricate interaction of variables such as color and laminated properties.

6. Conclusions and Future Work

6.1. Conclusions

This comprehensive review explores the complexity of measuring ultraviolet (UV) transmission in materials used for windows, known as fenestration glazing. The review has focused on the two main measurement tools—spectrophotometers and radiometers. Though these tools are efficient, they also come with significant financial and operational challenges, which can potentially slow down research progress in this field. This review has also highlighted the challenges related to the degradation of window glazing materials over time and the small sample sizes used in measurements. Since these small samples may not accurately represent the entire product, they could give a misleading view of the material’s UV transmission properties, especially given that these properties can significantly change over their lifespan due to factors such as aging, weathering, and exposure to environmental conditions.
Additionally, different window configurations have unique UV transmission characteristics. For instance, laminate glass and UV-protected clear glass are excellent at blocking UV light, making them suitable for applications that require strong UV protection. However, certain float glass configurations have high UV transmission rates, making them less ideal for UV-sensitive applications. Understanding and measuring UV transmission in window materials are critical for achieving energy efficiency in buildings and protecting occupants from UV exposure. Given the challenges with the current measurement methods, it is necessary to explore alternative, affordable, and user-friendly ways of measuring UV transmission. This could lead to more people having access to this vital data, contributing to the construction of energy-efficient buildings with better UV protection.

6.2. Future Research

Looking forward, more research is needed to find and develop innovative solutions that can address these challenges. This will enhance our understanding of UV transmission properties in window materials and deterioration detection, which will be useful in selecting the right materials and developing effective UV protection strategies for buildings. Therefore, we suggest the following:
  • Exploring the use of emerging digital technologies in detecting UV transmission and deterioration in fenestration glazing. In Part II of this review, a review of digital imaging and UV photography examining the strengths and applicability of enabling technologies will be performed.
  • Exploring distinctive pixel intensity characteristics of various glazing configurations with the intention of creating an automated machine vision system to determine the transmission characteristics of fenestration.

Author Contributions

D.A.O.: Conceptualization, Visualization, Writing—original draft, Writing—review and editing. R.S.S.: Supervision, Resources, Methodology, Writing—review and editing. B.S.: Conceptualization, Resources, Supervision. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This work was supported by the University of Florida Rinker School of Construction Management and the University of Florida Graduate School.

Data Availability Statement

The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


UV RUltraviolet radiation
Low-eLow emissivity
NIRNear infrared


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Figure 1. Representation of the relationship and progression of the review from Part I to Part II.
Figure 1. Representation of the relationship and progression of the review from Part I to Part II.
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Figure 3. Solar transmission in fenestration explained [32].
Figure 3. Solar transmission in fenestration explained [32].
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Figure 4. Co-occurrence clustering of high-frequency keywords related to ultraviolet transmission in fenestration.
Figure 4. Co-occurrence clustering of high-frequency keywords related to ultraviolet transmission in fenestration.
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Figure 5. Literature collection process (preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses flowchart).
Figure 5. Literature collection process (preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses flowchart).
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Figure 6. Network of prolific authors in the field.
Figure 6. Network of prolific authors in the field.
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Figure 7. Typical layout of a spectrophotometer: (a) single-beam spectrophotometer; (b) double-beam spectrophotometer. Adapted from [43,44,45].
Figure 7. Typical layout of a spectrophotometer: (a) single-beam spectrophotometer; (b) double-beam spectrophotometer. Adapted from [43,44,45].
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Figure 8. Distribution of spectrophotometer types utilized for UV transmission detection in fenestration.
Figure 8. Distribution of spectrophotometer types utilized for UV transmission detection in fenestration.
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Figure 9. Typical schematic of spectroradiometer adapted from [52,53,54].
Figure 9. Typical schematic of spectroradiometer adapted from [52,53,54].
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Figure 10. Ultraviolet radiation transmission data of the most commonly used glazing types in the built environment [3,30,33,81,82].
Figure 10. Ultraviolet radiation transmission data of the most commonly used glazing types in the built environment [3,30,33,81,82].
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Table 2. Criteria for literature classification.
Table 2. Criteria for literature classification.
Primary DataSecondary Data
Journal articles UV radiation in glazingNot related to UV radiation in glazing
Peer-reviewed publicationsDuplicate recordsUV radiation measurement
Printed in English
Table 5. Current measurement results of UV transmission rates across different types of fenestration glazing materials as documented in various studies.
Table 5. Current measurement results of UV transmission rates across different types of fenestration glazing materials as documented in various studies.
ReferenceMeasured RangeComponent of Investigation and UV Transmission Results
[30]290 nm to 3300 nmFloat class = 65%, low-e coated glass = 41%, dark silver glass = 10%, float glass/A/float glass = 50%, float glass/A/low-e glass = 32%, float glass/A/silver glass = 8%, low-e glass/A/low-e glass = 22%, low-e glass/A/float glass = 32%,
Silver/A/float = 8%, silver/A/low-e = 5%, silver/A/silver = 1%
[50]315 to 380 nmAnnealed and tempered glass transmits = 74% and 72%, patterned glass transmits UV-A = 45%, and laminated glass blocks all UV-A = 0%.
[3]300 to 400 nmM. clear glass—72%, M. tinted glass—40%, M. laminated glass—0.6%, double-glazed clear glass—57%, double-glazed tinted glass—33%, double-glazed spectrally selective low-e glass—20%, double-glazed laminated glass 0.5%, d-glazed spectrally selective UV-blocking glass 0.1%, double-glazed reflective glass—17%, double-glazed spectrally selective reflective glass—25%
[33]300 to 400 nmClear 6 mm glass—60.16%, clear nontreated—54.39%, low-e nontreated—22.50%, clear treated SNG—0.92%, low-e treated SNG—0.61%
[27]330–420 nmUltraviolet-absorbing film glass—93%
[82]315–400 nmNonlaminated: clear—62.8%, nonlaminated: light green—35.7%, nonlaminated: dark green—22.9%, nonlaminated: grey—11.4%, laminated: clear—9.7%, laminated: green—9.0%, laminated: grey—0.6%
[81]315–380 nmStandard float glass—63%, standard double-pane insulation glass—48%, low-iron float glass—88%, low-iron float glass, ar coating on both sides—90%, low-iron float glass with a low-e coating—43%
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Onatayo, D.A.; Srinivasan, R.S.; Shah, B. Ultraviolet Radiation Transmission in Buildings’ Fenestration: Part I, Detection Methods and Approaches Using Spectrophotometer and Radiometer. Buildings 2023, 13, 1670.

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Onatayo DA, Srinivasan RS, Shah B. Ultraviolet Radiation Transmission in Buildings’ Fenestration: Part I, Detection Methods and Approaches Using Spectrophotometer and Radiometer. Buildings. 2023; 13(7):1670.

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Onatayo, Damilola Adeniyi, Ravi Shankar Srinivasan, and Bipin Shah. 2023. "Ultraviolet Radiation Transmission in Buildings’ Fenestration: Part I, Detection Methods and Approaches Using Spectrophotometer and Radiometer" Buildings 13, no. 7: 1670.

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