We've been in a hotel for the weekend—one of the glass tower types. (It wasn't our first choice, but it was graduation weekend in Boston and everything was full.) The windows didn't open, and even though we know why this is so irksome, it still felt peculiar to be so cut off from the world: it looked nice outside, but we had to turn on the TV to find out whether or not we needed a jacket.
So why are so many buildings still built with windows that won't open?
Many architects and engineers like sealed windows because they simplify calculations and systems for heating and cooling the building. Hotel chains like sealed windows because it's impossible for guests to fall out or leave the windows open in a rainstorm. For hotels, the tradeoff may be worth it; plus, the hum from the ventilation system screens out the sound of the neighboring rooms.
But for offices and homes, the research is very clear: well-designed windows that open not only make people happier with the building they're in, but they also can save energy. When we feel a connection to the outdoors, or when they can open the window to take advantage of a fresh breeze, we're more likely to be comfortable within a wider range of temperatures than we would be in a building that's all sealed up.
image by salssa via sxc.hu