Modern architecture relies more on windows than ever before. Glazing advances in modern windows lower heat loss, cut air leakage, and improve comfort and minimize condensation. However, glare, solar heat gain, and direct sunlight still can diminish the comfort of interior spaces. This makes it more difficult to perform basic work functions and endangers occupant comfort.

A 2003 study showed that the greater the glare potential from primary view windows, the worse the office worker performance, decreasing productivity by 15–21 percent, all other things being equal.

That’s why Draper has released a new educational course for architects. “Supporting Performance While Saving Energy: Designing solar shades to cultivate occupant well-being and promote whole building function” is worth one continuing education credit from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and was developed in partnership with Architectural Record magazine.

The class compares four main solutions for solar control:

  • Fixed exterior shading
  • Dynamic glass
  • Mini blinds
  • Interior solar shades

While all of these solutions have their advantages and drawbacks, none of them have the versatility and functionality of solar shades.

Motorization and automation, in conjunction with color selection and other factors, help correct glare issues.

Solar shading solutions not only control natural light, reduce energy costs, and manage solar heat gain, they also have a real cost/benefit return when they improve employee productivity and comfort. Even if their contribution is a small percentage, it is still a large benefit to the bottom line.

The class also provides insight into how motorization and automation of shades increases their efficiency and productivity impact. Reverting to manual shades to save a few dollars in the short-term hampers long-term occupant welfare and productivity and may lead to retrofits down the road to ensure comfort and enhance energy savings.

“The reality is that automation is a relatively low-cost add-on if you specify a good-performing motorization system,” notes Jeffrey Miller, manager of solar-control products for Draper Inc. While market perceptions exist that shade automation is expensive, the reality is drastically different—a design professional can effectively automate floor by floor, by elevation, or per tenant for a very small premium. “The decrease in expense is a big change in the past 5 to 10 years,” Miller says. “Ten years ago, the cost for automation could run up to four times the cost of the shades themselves; today, automation is now a fraction of the cost of shades.”

A seismic shift in technology, simplification, and reduction in the cost of components all combine to place automation within reach of most buildings.

Not only does automation guarantee efficiency and welfare strategies, it also helps buildings earn important credits on the road to various sustainability certifications, including LEED.

“We are anxious for designers to make this connection,” Miller says. “Do not skip out on an easy way to obtain LEED or other sustainability and wellness credits. With automation, you can take a building from LEED Silver to Gold, which makes a difference in marketability and lease rates.”

The new class was introduced in the July 2020 issue of Architectural Record, and can be taken online by clicking here.

A separate class on this subject will be available soon for virtual presentations by our architectural sales managers. Click here to find and contact your Draper architectural representative to schedule a presentation of “Window Shades: Their Impact on Building Performance and Budgets.”

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