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Manual roller blinds lowered halfway down the windows on the top floor of 150 Holborn building in London

What does 2024 have in store for the solar shading industry?

By: Oli Birch Category: Blinds

What does 2024 have in store for the solar shading industry? What developments can we expect to see over the next 12 months?

For many in the construction industry, 2023 was a challenging year. A host of factors, including economic uncertainty and events in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, had a widespread impact.

Despite this, the forecast for 2024 and beyond is certainly more positive. In fact, in June 2023, Glenigan predicted a 12% recovery in the construction industry this year, with a further 3% increase in 2025.

Inspired by the Glenigan forecast, earlier this week we sat down with our Technical Director, Russell Keegan, Major Projects Business Development Manager, Wes Clements, and Silent Gliss’ Marketing Manager, Sam Shervill, to hear their predictions for the solar shading industry for 2024.

Are there any advancements within sustainable fabric design that you predict will have a big impact in 2024?

SS: “Sustainability will remain the topic of conversation for interiors in 2024. Whilst eco-friendly fabrics will continue to grab headlines, we expect more conversations with specifiers about the sustainable benefits of shading itself. For example, mitigating overheating and therefore reducing the need for artificial cooling.”

WC: “I agree. Hopefully we’ll also see some further developments with regards to sustainable fabric design, but I think the industry is quite behind on this compared to others, in my opinion.”

Do you think the Part O regulation will lead to a shift in specification of external blind systems?

RK: “I think 2024 will see a shift towards external shading, but as the Part O changes only came into effect in June 2022, I think we will be specifying and designing a lot of external systems this year in preparation for an increased demand in the coming years.”

WC: “Similar to Russ’ answer. Yes I do, but it’s going to take a while to filter through, especially as we’re working predominantly on commercial projects. As Part O applies mainly to dwellings and resi buildings, the introduction of external blinds may be significantly quicker there.”

Zip Guided External Roller Blinds on the rear windows of a large house.

Are there any emerging trends you’ve noticed over the last few months that you think will carry on into 2024?

SS: “Yes. “Can you send me an EPD?”! We believe organisations will need to present more and more evidence to back up sustainability claims rather than just greenwashing with a glossy brochure and green logos.”

RK: “Agreed with Sam. EPDs will play a big part of things moving forwards. Also, going back to Part O. Even though this is not currently applicable to offices and commercial spaces, architects have been talking a lot more about thermal heat gain, and this is going to be a key topic on all projects. Therefore, we’re putting a lot of work into producing the shading coefficient numbers for all of our fabrics.”

WC: “Both great points. And as Russ said, a lot more consideration is going into thermal heat gain now rather than the focus just being on visual and glare before. So perhaps this is down to the modelling of buildings being better, or it could also be the impact of NABERS which is starting to make a bigger impact in the UK now, especially over BREEAM which you could argue is becoming slightly outdated.”

For more information on shading coefficients or NABERS, you can view our blogs on the respective topics below:

‘What is the solar heat gain coefficient?’

‘How can solar shading enhance a building’s NABERS rating?’

Have manually operated blind systems had their day or is there still a need for them?

WC: “No, manual blinds will be required for the majority of smaller fit-outs. It’s only really on major projects where we can treat the whole building, or a substantial part of the building, where motorised and automated systems come into their own. There is very little point having an odd floor here and there fully automated if the floors below or above are manual.”

RK: “Agreed, manual blinds will always have a place on projects. But the pressure on solar heat gain, energy efficient fabrics and creating sustainable buildings means we should be talking about motorisation and automation a lot more.”

SS: “Whilst we see interest growing in motorised systems, there is still a strong demand for manual systems. Not all projects are able to get power to every window, particularly on refurbishments. Also, cost remains a barrier to motorisation. Although prices are coming down, there is still significant differential when you compare high quality products. But beware, you get what you pay for!”

Close up image of the chain operated roller blinds FORA's co-working space in Oxford Street

Will there be any developments within automated systems that will come to fruition over the next 12 months?

RK: “You’ve tee’d me up nicely to talk about the developments with our own control system! We’ve worked hard on a new SMI system that we’ll be revealing more about in the coming months. We’re also working on radiation readings to get better data on solar heat gain to accurately manage building control.”

SS: “We’ve been watching the development of Matter and Thread very closely. We think this will have an impact on automated systems.

WC: “Yes, definitely. As Russ mentioned, we’re continuing to develop our own SMI system. And I’ll be able to say more after R&T next month, as that’s when suppliers will bring new products to market.”

Do you think there will be industry-specific trends when it comes to solar shading in 2024?

SS: “We’re continuing to see more ‘soft’ office interiors, whereby curtains are being specified alongside blinds, or in some cases instead of. Hospitality meanwhile is focusing more than ever on a good night’s sleep and specifying zipped dimout blinds for total room darkening, as opposed to a roller blind with a blackout fabric. Acoustics in offices and hospitality is a continuing conversation, though I don’t see this as a trend. It’s a conversation that has been happening on an increasingly regular basis and we don’t see it going away anytime soon.

WC: “Sam’s pretty much covered some of the industry specific trends there. I think, on the whole, the focus will be on sustainable fabrics and sustainable design.”

RK: “As we discussed earlier, a shift in focus towards external blinds. Especially multi-dwelling resi units.”

So there you have it, a few trends and predictions for the solar shading industry in 2024! Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below or on social media, and if you’d be interested in contributing to an upcoming blog, we’d love to hear from you!


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