Traditionally, shade fabric selection has been mostly the responsibility of interior designers. But with more precise manufacturing of shade fabrics and the development of testing and modeling capabilities, more and more architects are turning to performance capabilities and specifications to determine fabric choice.

We’re tackling this subject in two new continuing education courses, one for in-person or virtual presentation and the other for online use.

“Whole Building Approach to Interior Roller Shade Fabric Selections” appears in this month’s Architectural Record and online in the BNP continuing education center. Learning objectives include being able to:

  • Evaluate the whole building impact of roller shade fabrics on thermal comfort, energy efficiency, productivity, aesthetics, and views;
  • Identify the characteristics of coated fiberglass and coated polyester fabrics, including the different weave patterns and view-through options;
  • Adjust colors, openness factors, and weaves to optimize comfort, performance, and aesthetics for the customized needs of each project application;
  • Discuss the benefits of a complex glazing, whole building approach that considers how a fabric performs with the glass as a total system and integrates with the building’s facade, surroundings, geographical location, and orientation; and
  • Review modeling tools and mock-up best practices to optimize shade fabric designs.
The courses also point out the importance of working with quality domestic suppliers, like Phifer and Mermet USA, who have quality programs and testing in place.

Properties of visible light transmission (VLT), absorption, reflection, scattering, and emissivity affect views and daylighting. They also significantly impact HVAC loads from heat and radiation transfer through the fenestration, aesthetics, thermal comfort and circadian health of occupants, productivity, and surface condensation. It is these performance factors, and not simply interior design, which should play the major role in shade fabric selection.

One important and just emerging factor is to consider shade fabrics and glazing as a complex system, and not separate entities.

“From a whole building perspective, architects should select the shade’s openness value, visible transmittance, and fabric reflectance that provides protection from glare, visual comfort, daylighting performance, allows some view to the outside, and aesthetically matches with the rest of the building facade,” said Thanos Tzempelikos, Ph.D., professor of civil engineering, Center for High-Performance Buildings, Purdue University.

For example, while roller shade specifications typically come after the glazing and facade design, the glazing and shading systems should be designed together. That way their combined impact on occupant comfort and energy use can be assessed in a holistic, integrated way. “Shading properties like angular transmittance and reflectance add and interact with the effects of glazing properties, such as SHGC and the overall angular thermal and light transmittance of the window system.”

To learn more about the science behind selecting shade fabric, click here to take the class online.

To learn more about the live/virtual presentation version of this class, entitled “Shade Fabric Selection: A Performance-Based Approach,” click here for details on the course and how to take it.

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