Specifying Shades in a Performance Based Design

Interior fabric solutions reach far beyond aesthetic appeal in a space.

09/01/2016 By Colin Blackford

One performance-related drawback of specifying a dark-colored interior shade fabric, however, is that it will absorb the energy that is created by the near infrared wavelength and can create a lot of heat.

KOOLBLACK® Technology is an example of a shading innovation that solves this problem. By increasing its near infrared reflection (NIR), a dark shade fabric can maintain visibility and glare control benefits while enhancing energy reflection comparable with light fabric. As modern building design continues to trend toward large glass façades, expect demand to steadily increase for this and other technologies that can enhance aesthetics and performance, both inside and out.

 Glazing and Solar Shading Go Hand-in-Hand

Architects who consider shade selection in conjunction with glazing are at the forefront of a paradigm shift in the industry. With the help of new software, the industry will soon be able to quantify the performance values of innovative shade fabrics and glazing combinations. This data will help answer the question: “How does a particular shade impact the overall system performance?”

The glazing industry has already created guidelines for calculating energy performance.Following in those footsteps, the Department of Energy and the Attachments Energy Rating Council (AERC) are working to determine rules for quantifying complete building envelope performance with shading solutions. Their work should help shrink the gap between understanding the aesthetic and performance characteristics of different shading and glazing combinations. As a result, architects and designers will be able to see the benefits of specifying these components concurrently.

Use Affects How Shades Perform

In contrast to other window treatments, including applied films, awnings, and drapes, shade fabrics offer the ultimate adjustability to balance daylight, glare, and view preservation according to occupant needs. By the same token, a shade is only effective if it is deployed to the correct position at the appropriate time.

For building occupants positioned near a west-facing façade that receives intense afternoon sunlight, adjustability is critical to help control heat and glare. Completely lowering the shade, however, may force interior lighting to be raised and increase energy expenditures to a degree. Fully deploying shades on a dark, cloudy day would have a similar effect, particularly with a tight openness shade fabric designed for glare control.

Automated shade controls mitigate these potential issues and are often considered an integral part of a long-term energy-saving strategy.

indow light sensors and/or interior lighting systems share data with an automated shading system, raising or lowering it based on the current angle of the sun, weather conditions, interior temperature, and other factors.

This technology ensures the performance characteristics of the specified shade meet daylighting and energy requirements. It is especially beneficial in large, shared spaces such as lobbies and conference rooms. Still, manual overrides are a valuable feature in automation, as individual building occupant preferences change based on mood and task needs.

Bring Your Vision to Life

There’s no doubt that the A&D community is one of the most innovative collections of people in the world. Each one of us wants our own innovation to shine through in the buildings and the spaces we create. In terms of the fenestration, the next step forward is to understand how the innovative products we choose can work together to achieve a specific design intent, and elevate beautiful designs with an increased emphasis on performance.

Colin Blackford is the innovation manager for Mermet USA.

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