Solar Shading – Much More Than Decoration
Monthly Column By Sam Shervill
The 21st March marks the launch of the first Global Shading Day – but why do we need it? We need it because the usual conversation around curtains and blinds revolves around the visual impact window treatments have on an interior. All good stuff, but I strongly feel that now is the time to change the narrative to take into consideration the environmental, economic and human benefits of solar shading.
I want to start with the environment! Scientific studies have shown that solar shading could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 100 million tonnes, with potential energy saving of up to 60% for cooling buildings by 2050. The buildings we occupy are the planets leading energy consumers, accounting for an incredible 40% of energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions. In interior design we talk a lot about sustainability and how we should be sourcing sustainable materials, but what might not be a sustainable screen fabric may in fact make more of a positive impact on the environment than a recycled fabric. If we don’t realise the potential of installing efficient solar shading we could be looking at an increase in the number of buildings needing air conditioning by an estimated 60% by 2050. These machines will only pour more CO2 into our atmosphere, increasing ‘extreme’ heatwaves that are now far too more commonplace than they should be. And let’s not forget, all this excessive aircon is expensive, the global savings that could be realised by installing solar shading are estimated at a jaw-dropping €285 million.
If I can’t trigger your interest with the planet and pounds, take into consideration the human benefits. Windows give us a view on the world and the benefits of daylight on our wellbeing and productivity are proven time and time again, but when daylight gets in to a room so does solar gain (known as heat to you and I!). It is a fact that more people die of building overheating then the cold, particularly the elderly and vulnerable. So how are we solving it? Those who can simply turn on the aircon and the cycle starts again. Has anyone noticed how many new buildings seem to have smaller windows these days? All avoidable by installing efficient solar shading to manage glare and heat whilst maintaining daylight to create comfortable living and working environments. It sounds simple and it is, you just need to leave the science to the shading experts!
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