2023 has been yet another year of record high temperatures and extreme conditions across the globe.
The UK experienced it’s joint-warmest September on record, with an average temperature of 15.2°C matching the previous record set in 2006.
Meanwhile, September was the hottest on record for the likes of Germany, France, Switzerland and Poland. In fact, temperatures have been so warm this year that 2023 is on course to be the hottest year ever recorded.
As we’re all aware by now, drastic action is required. And the construction industry needs to improve if it’s to be at the forefront for change and making a positive impact moving forwards. According to the 2022 UN Environment Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction:
“The buildings and construction sector is not on track to achieve decarbonisation by 2050. And the gap between the actual climate performance of the sector and the decarbonisation pathway is widening.”
While the onus is not solely on architects to lead the way in preventing climate change, as governments across the world should be leading by example (though many, sadly, are not), they can make a big impact with sustainable design.
And external solar shading systems have a role to play in this. In this blog, we identify the key environmental benefits that come with installing an external solar shading systems.
Reduced reliance on air conditioning
External solar shading systems can play a pivotal role in the quest for constructing energy efficient buildings, particularly on large commercial projects. Currently, there is a huge reliance on air conditioning to keep buildings cool during spells of high temperatures. And the irony here is by using these systems, we’re contributing to global warming even more.
Furthermore, the International Energy Agency has predicted that by 2050, air conditioning will be the “strongest driver of global energy demand.” This could then see global carbon emissions rise by 2.5 gigatonnes.
However, external solar shading systems can significantly limit the reliance on such systems. As they’re installed on the outside of a building, they’re the first line of defence when it comes to preventing heat gain. Therefore, external products, like shutters and roller blinds, can help to reduce the internal temperature of a building, especially when installed with an automated system.
In fact, based on findings from the GuideHouse study 2021, automated solar shading could prevent a 17% increase in the share of buildings relying on air conditioning by 2050, resulting in a 56% saving on energy use.
Heat retention in winter
So, we’ve highlighted the impact external products can have during the summer, but what about the winter?
As the sun is less intense and the days are shorter during the winter months, the impact of heat gain dramatically decreases and we experience heat loss through the glazing, particularly overnight.
However, if an external solar shading product is deployed, a proportion of the heat that would otherwise be lost is trapped against the glazing. Therefore, as buildings do not lose as much heat, there is a reduced reliance on the length of time and the intensity at which central heating systems are used, leading to a reduction in carbon emissions and energy costs.
Furthermore, they significantly reduce the chance of ice forming on the glazing and condensation inside, which would contribute to the cold internal temperature.
In June 2022, Part O of the Building Regulations came into effect to highlight acceptable strategies for reducing overheating in new residential buildings. External blinds are specifically mentioned in section 1.9 and 2.7 respectively, with the document highlighting their efficacy in improving a building’s energy efficiency.
Although Part O currently only applies to residential buildings in the UK, we believe this could be expanded in the future. For more information on Part O, follow the link below.
The likes of BREEAM, LEED and SKA also have significant requirements for reducing the effect of glare to improve the performance of a building. Meanwhile, the WELL standard covers a range of topics for improving the spaces we inhabit, including thermal comfort and light.
External blind systems can play a key role in helping architects and specifiers comply with these accreditations.
If you’d like to know more about the benefits of external solar shading systems or would like to speak to the team about specifying them on your projects, contact us here and our team will be delighted to assist.