Supporting Performance While Saving Energy

Designing solar shades to cultivate occupant well-being and promote whole building function
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Sponsored by Draper, Inc.
By Amanda Voss, MPP

Properly Valuing Motorized Shading Systems

A motorized and automated system provides the fullest benefit for the investment in shading strategy for a relatively small impact on the overall project budget. Incorporating an automated control system maximizes the benefits from shades, safeguarding the highest levels of user comfort, glare minimization, and maximal energy savings. The added cost can be made up by improved productivity and, where applicable, smaller HVAC load. Unfortunately, shades are often among the last products to go into a building, and as a finish, their choices are often hampered by shortened budgets and last-minute value engineering. Despite the advances in shade technology, which have rendered motorization and automation as a fraction of shade cost, the industry perception remains that automation is expensive. Reverting to manual shades to save a few dollars in the short term hampers long-term occupant welfare and productivity, and may lead to retrofits down the road to ensure comfort and enhance energy savings.

“The reality is that automation is a relatively low cost add-on if you specify a good-performing motorization system,” notes Jeffrey Miller, manager of solar-control products for Draper Inc. While market perceptions exist that shade automation is expensive, the reality is drastically different—a design professional can effectively automate floor by floor, by elevation, or per tenant for a very small premium. “The decrease in expense is a big change in the past 5 to 10 years,” Miller says. “Ten years ago, the cost for automation could run up to four times the cost of the shades themselves; today, automation is now a fraction of the cost of shades.”

A seismic shift in technology, simplification, and reduction in the cost of components all combine to place automation within reach of most buildings.

Not only does automation guarantee efficiency and welfare strategies, it also helps buildings earn important credits on the road to various sustainability certifications, including LEED.

“We are anxious for designers to make this connection,” Miller says. “Do not skip out on an easy way to obtain LEED or other sustainability and wellness credits. With automation, you can take a building from LEED Silver to Gold, which makes a difference in marketability and lease rates.”

Automation also brings aesthetic value. Designers receive the added benefits of exterior management and visual organization of elevations. Fabric color has a visual impact on glass color and tint. Having shades across a facade at different stages of deployment looks disorganized. Choosing the right exterior color and automating shades ensures a uniform and positive appearance.

Photos: © Brett Drury, Architectural Photography

A seismic shift in technology, simplification, and reduction in the cost of components all combine to place automation within reach of most buildings.

Specification Notes for Motorized Shading Systems

When specifying motorized shades, some product considerations have to be made. These address hardware size and type, coupling, and product type.

There are three types of motorized shade controls: group, individual, and combined group and individual controls. Costs can be reduced by coupling shades and sharing motors, which also eases installation and setup. Intelligent motor systems can be designed where external controllers are not required. The motor itself keeps track of the solar shade’s position, rather than the controller, and can supply feedback to the central control system.

The complexity and ultimate cost of the motorized shade system depends on how large and flexible it needs to be. Where integration with existing automation is not desired, motorized shades can incorporate stand-alone automation based on local operation, time schedule operation, sun sensors, or sun-tracking data.

The Holistic Role of Shades In Efficiency And Occupant Well-Being

When seeking a finish option that maximizes both occupant welfare and building performance, what role can motorized shades play in a design? Solar shades create flexible solutions for interior, exterior, and dual-facade applications that allow building managers and occupants to control natural light, manage solar heat gain, reduce energy costs, and improve employee productivity and comfort. Amplified energy efficiency and increased occupant comfort are enhanced and secured by specifying automated solar shades.

End Notes

1Ander, Gregg D. “Windows and Glazing.” Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG). 11 November 2016. Web. 5 June 2020.

22010 U.S. Lighting Market Characterization.” U.S. Department of Energy. January 2012. Web. 5 June 2020.

3Loftness, Vivian et al. “Building Investment Decision Support (BIDS™).” 2004. Web. 9 June 2020.

4Seppanen, Olli et al. “Ventilation and performance in office work.” Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory. 1 July 2004. Web. 10 June 2020.

5WBDG Productive Committee. “Productive.” WBDG. 29 August 2018. Web. 5 June 2020.

6Windows and Offices: A Study of Work Performance and the Indoor Environment.” California Energy Commission. October 2003. Web. 5 June 2020.

7Streitz, Norbert et al. Cooperative Buildings. Integrating Information, Organizations, and Architecture. Second International Workshop, CoBuild. 1–2 October 1999.

8Edwards, L. and Torcellini, P. “A Literature Review of the Effects of Natural Light on Building Occupants.” National Renewable Energy Laboratory. July 2002. Web. 5 June 2020.

9Seppanen, Olli et al. “Ventilation and performance in office work.” Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory. 1 July 2004. Web. 10 June 2020.

10Fisk, William et al. “Worker Performance and Ventilation: Analyses of Time-Series Data for a Group of Call-Center Workers.” Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory. 2002. Web. 10 June 2020.

11Zhang Y. Indoor Air Quality Engineering. CRC Press. 2004.

12Seppanen, Olli et al. “Ventilation and performance in office work.” Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory. 1 July 2004. Web. 10 June 2020.

 

Draper, Inc. Based in Spiceland, Indiana, Draper has manufactured custom window shading solutions since 1902. Its products reflect sunlight and heat and reduce or eliminate glare. Draper works with architects and designers on flexible and scalable solutions for interior, exterior, and dual facade applications that allow them to control natural light, manage solar heat gain, reduce energy costs, and improve employee productivity and comfort.
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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in July 2020


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