Back in November 2022, our Specification Manager Richard Webb answered 10 of the most frequently asked questions from our CPD’s last year.
The presentation, Improving Sustainability through Performance Solar Shading, has been incredibly well received since we began delivering it both in person and as a webinar, with Richard and our Head of Specification Ben Vowles thoroughly enjoying the interaction with architects during the CPD.
And ahead of our next webinar on Tuesday 7th February, which you can book on to here, Richard is back to answer five more questions he and Ben were asked throughout 2022.
1. Is LEED better than BREEAM?
This is a difficult question and one that is often subject to debate within the industry.
Essentially they are both environmental accreditations looking at the sustainability of designs, products and methods. And in that regard, it is difficult to say one is better than the other. We discuss both in greater detail in our CPD.
From a solar shading and blinds point of view, the latest BREEAM guidelines from 2018 stipulate that blind fabrics must have a maximum openness of 1%. However, this is a retrograde step, as it can severely limit both the amount of light entering a space and also the view out. Technically, it also excludes several metallised fabrics which have a larger openness than 1% and actually perform better at both glare and solar heat gain control, than standard non-metallised screen fabrics. So this is in direct contradiction to other BREEAM published advice on maximising daylight and views.
2. Where are your blinds manufactured?
The majority of our internal products are manufactured in Luton, where we have our own factory. I’ve recently had to do a study on how far we transport the finished goods for our pending EPD and over 90% are installed within 55 miles of the Luton factory. Most raw materials come from Europe with a smaller percentage coming in from the far east.
3. Do you consider equilibrium/circadian rhythms of individuals when it comes to specifying blind fabrics?
Deciding on a suitable fabric is a balancing act between several things. Firstly function: What are the blinds needed for? Glare control? Room darkening? Privacy? Aesthetics? And normally, an area is used by more than one individual, so we can’t exactly tailor the specification to one particular person.
However, as a general rule we always try to maximise the amount of controlled daylight into a space whilst maintaining as good a view to the outside as possible. These two things have a big impact on our circadian rhythm and wellbeing.
For glare and solar heat gain control, our starting point would be to use a metallised screen fabric with an openness between 2% and 4%, and a maximum TV value of 7% to ensure adequate glare control. Metallised fabrics give superior glare and solar heat gain control over non-metallised fabric, allowing a comfortable amount of daylight to enter the building.
However, if room-darkening or privacy is required, the fabric clearly needs to minimise the amount of light passing through. So we would recommend a blackout fabric in this scenario. As the name suggests, the blind fabric would provide glare and solar control by eliminating any view to the outside world and creating a darker space inside.
To give clients the best of both worlds, we often suggest the use of two blinds at the window instead of just one complete blackout; with one providing glare control and allowing the benefits of daylight, while the other could be used when room-darkening or privacy is required. It can have a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of the occupants if the space inside does not have enough daylight, hence the recommendation.
We also put forward the idea of a motorised or automated system wherever possible, in order to maximise the performance of the blinds. Our first blog post of 2023 identifies the differences between the two systems and why they’re so beneficial.
The majority of projects we work on tend to opt for blinds that will control glare and solar heat gain, though occasionally the project requires blackout blinds for privacy.
4. Does the size of the blind box increase with bigger drop blinds?
Yes. The size of a blind box is governed by two factors: width and drop. As the drop increases, so too does the length of fabric required as it needs to be rolled around the barrel, which increases the diameter of the roll.
However, the width also governs the size of the barrel the fabric rolls onto. So the wider the window, the larger the diameter of the barrel needs to be, to maintain the span without deflecting. This also has an impact on the total roll diameter.
5. Are there any size limitations on a metallised blind?
Like most blinds, the size limitations are governed by the mechanism weight capacity, the width of the roll of fabric and whether the fabric can be joined. The actual dimensions vary from fabric to fabric and situation to situation.
If you’d like to find out more about metallised blinds and how they can improve the energy efficiency of your project, then please feel free to contact us or attend our next CPD webinar!