Dynamic Facades and Shading

Heating, cooling, and lighting constitute 57 percent of the total energy end uses in commercial buildings and façades have a large influence over these loads.

An advanced management utilization of natural energy sources such as sunshine, daylight and external air can significantly reduce this figure. Automated solar shading is just one example of variety of methods available. The return on investment, when switching to automatic shading systems can save between 20 to 40 percent of energy used for just one to two percent of the total building cost.

Dynamic Façades and Productivity

It is proven that thermal and visual comfort has a beneficial effect on the occupants' well-being. Working or living in a pleasant, healthy environment is no longer perceived as luxury, it's good business. It translates into improved efficiency and productivity.

The two best ways to achieve these benefits are:

  1. comfortable and consistent indoor temperatures
  2. continuous glare control

Integrated Façades

Glazing and façade systems have very large impacts on all aspects of commercial building performance. They directly influence peak heating and cooling loads, and indirectly influence lighting loads when daylighting is considered. In addition to being a major determinant of annual energy use, they can have significant impacts on peak cooling system sizing, electric load shape and peak electric demand.

As they are prominent architectural and design elements and they influence occupant preference, satisfaction and comfort, it is important to address all aspects of the "integrated façade" in the early design stage.

The Digital Revolution Has Changed How we Manage Buildings

In the 1990's the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Industry ushered in the era of Digital Controls for Buildings. It evolved into a software-driven system using Direct Digital Control (DDC) with programmable controllers that could be customized for scheduling, set points, controllers, occupancy, trend logs and alarms.

Towards the year 2000, digital controlled lighting was introduced which allowed individual lights to be controlled over a network. The advantages of digital control lighting are:

  • Reduced complexity (compared to analog systems) by minimizing, and eventually eliminating, additional control wiring.
  • Ability to implement demand responsive control and optimize lighting energy management.
  • Better accessibility of lighting and lighting systems to building occupants and users.
  • Flexibility to change groups and functionality by software

We are now in the era of digital controlled shading which delivers the same installation, management and functionality benefits as lighting and HVAC as well as the ability to interact with these complementary systems to optimize the building system performance.

Today, it is no longer good enough to install a simple manual control. A LEED Platinum building with an energy simulation projecting a 70 percent reduction in energy consumption must have these controls to adjust temperature, air and water flow, lighting and shading according to weather, time of day, use and occupancy.

Summary

Two key trends are impacting building design today. Climate change concerns and a drive for higher occupant comfort – and designing for one can have a significant negative impact on the other.

To meet these challenges, building professionals will have to work in a much more collaborative and innovative manner than ever before. Moreover, they have to start collaborating much earlier – at the conceptual stage.