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External venetian blinds fixed into the facade of a residential building

Using external blinds to comply with Part O regulations

By: Oli Birch Category: External Blinds

Last summer saw record high temperatures regularly broken across Europe. July was “Earth’s hottest month on record,” with parts of Europe experiencing lengthy spells of continuous 40 degree heat. And just last month, the Met Office confirmed 2023 was the “warmest year on record” across the globe.

As a result of increasing temperatures, Part O regulations were introduced in June 2022 to prevent overheating within dwellings and residential buildings in the UK.

In this blog, we explore how external blinds can play a key role in helping architects and contractors comply with these regulations and combat rising temperatures, discussing the topics below with the help of our Technical Director, Russell Keegan:

  • A summary of Part O
  • The challenges architects and contractors face in meeting regulations
  • The benefits of external blinds
  • Specification considerations

A summary of Part O

As previously mentioned, the objective of Part O is to mitigate overheating by limiting the level of solar gain entering our buildings and reducing the reliance on air conditioning systems, which produce large amounts of CO2.

Introduced in June 2022, Part O stresses that “The building should be constructed to meet [the] requirement using passive means as far as reasonably practicable… Any mechanical cooling (air-conditioning) is expected to be used only where [the] requirement cannot be met.”

What challenges do architects and contractors face?

Architects and contractors shoulder the responsibility of weaving this essential regulation into the fabric of their designs, attempting to merge creativity with compliance.

External roller blinds shading Chiswick Park Industrial Park.

Furthermore, using external blinds to meet Part O regulations requires significant consideration at the building planning stage.

Alongside the aesthetics of the façade, the fixing detail, wiring and wind speed factors all need to be given significant thought, if external blinds are to be installed and used successfully.

Fire regulations will also need to be met; though the industry is in a slight state of confusion about such guidelines after a trade body successfully challenged government fire regulations in 2019.

But despite these considerations and challenges, using external blinds to comply with Part O regulations can in fact be very simple. Countries across Europe, like Germany, have used external products to combat heat gain for several years.

And through a detailed plan, advice from industry professionals and learning materials, like our new external blinds CPD, architects and contractors can use these products to successfully build new developments and retrofit existing buildings.

The benefits of external blinds

Part O regulations identify external blinds in sections 1.9 and 2.7 respectively, as “acceptable strategies for reducing overheating risk.”

But what are the benefits of using external blinds?

TESS 440 Cord Guided External Roller Blinds on a shaped window

As they’re fitted directly to the façade, external blinds are the most energy efficient way to shade a building.

They act as the first line of defence for a building by preventing heat gain during extreme temperatures, or allowing sunlight in during colder months.

And by regulating the amount of heat entering the building, this reduces the reliance on energy sapping air conditioning systems and heating, therefore saving on bills and reducing the carbon footprint of the building.

Specification considerations

When it comes to specification, there are three key questions to answer. Does the building require:

  1. Maximum performance or aesthetic appeal?
  2. Blackout blinds or blinds for glare control?
  3. Blinds for occupant comfort or energy efficiency?

Answering these questions will determine the type of external blind used on the building.

Next on the list is the fixing detail. Primarily, there are two options to consider here; fixed to the façade or a recess system.

The latter can only be done if the fixing detail is given significant thought at the building planning stage, whereas fixing to the façade tends to be done on projects where external blinds are considered further down the line.

We would always consider consulting an industry expert when specifying external blinds for your buildings.

If you’d like to know more about external blinds, Part O or specification considerations, contact us here and our Specification team will be delighted to assist!

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