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Large and small squares,
planks and skinny planks.
fabric, however, is that it will absorb the energy
that is created by the near infrared wavelength
and can create a lot of heat.
KOOLBLACK® Technology is an example of
a shading innovation that solves this problem.
By increasing its near infrared reflection (NIR), a
dark shade fabric can maintain visibility and glare
control benefits while enhancing energy reflection
comparable with light fabric. As modern building
design continues to trend toward large glass
façades, expect demand to steadily increase for
this and other technologies that can enhance
aesthetics and performance, both inside and out.
Architects who consider shade selection in conjunc-
tion with glazing are at the forefront of a paradigm
shift in the industry. With the help of new software,
the industry will soon be able to quantify the
performance values of innovative shade fabrics
and glazing combinations. This data will help
answer the question: “How does a particular
shade impact the overall system performance?”
The glazing industry has already created
guidelines for calculating energy performance.
Following in those footsteps, the Department
of Energy and the Attachments Energy Rating
Council (AERC) are working to determine rules for
quantifying complete building envelope performance
with shading solutions. Their work should help
shrink the gap between understanding the
aesthetic and performance characteristics of
different shading and glazing combinations. As
a result, architects and designers will be able to
see the benefits of specifying these components
In contrast to other window treatments, including
applied films, awnings, and drapes, shade
fabrics offer the ultimate adjustability to balance
daylight, glare, and view preservation according to
occupant needs. By the same token, a shade is
only effective if it is deployed to the correct position at the appropriate time.
For building occupants positioned near a
west-facing façade that receives intense afternoon sunlight, adjustability is critical to help control
heat and glare. Completely lowering the shade,
however, may force interior lighting to be raised
and increase energy expenditures to a degree.
Fully deploying shades on a dark, cloudy day
would have a similar effect, particularly with a tight
openness shade fabric designed for glare control.
Automated shade controls mitigate these
potential issues and are often considered an
integral part of a long-term energy-saving strategy.
Window light sensors and/or interior lighting
systems share data with an automated shading
system, raising or lowering it based on the current
angle of the sun, weather conditions, interior
temperature, and other factors.
This technology ensures the performance
characteristics of the specified shade meet daylighting and energy requirements. It is especially
beneficial in large, shared spaces such as lobbies
and conference rooms. Still, manual overrides
are a valuable feature in automation, as individual
building occupant preferences change based on
mood and task needs.
There’s no doubt that the A&D community is
one of the most innovative collections of people
in the world. Each one of us wants our own
innovation to shine through in the buildings and
the spaces we create. In terms of the fenestration,
the next step forward is to understand how
the innovative products we choose can work
together to achieve a specific design intent,
and elevate beautiful designs with an increased
emphasis on performance.
Colin Blackford is the innovation manager for
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1 Stetzenbach L.D., et al. 2008. Building Performance Characterization, Energy Usage, and Indoor Environmental Quality in High Performance Buildings,
National Center for Energy Management and Building Technologies, Alexandria, VA, Final Report NCEMB T (Task 06-06)