20 Ritzscreens van Hell

Are buildings in Europe ready for more heatweaves?


Source: http://es-so.com/

ES-SO, the European Solar Shading Organisation, recently published an interesting article about the need for solar shading in commercial and residential buildings. In recent years, rapid global warming has caused more heatwaves and extreme temperatures – “In Europe alone heatwaves are at least five times likelier to take place”, states Damian Carrington, environmental editor in The Guardian last summer . Heatwave temperatures are around 4°C hotter than a century ago, scientists say and in the recent month of March, average temperatures were almost two degrees Celsius above the 1981-2010 average, according to EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. Are buildings in Europe ready to protect its inhabitants from this extreme heat? If so, will it be done in a cost- and more importantly energy-efficient manner?

Summers are getting hotter, starting earlier and potentially lasting longer. These high temperatures are known to affect elderly people and those with pre-existing conditions in a harsh way, but also younger generations are searching for more comfort and healthy indoor lifestyles. Architects, engineers and building companies are striving for energy-efficient solutions to manage indoor climate, and governments are starting to acknowledge the negative impact of overheating in buildings. Going forwards, clear guidelines will be key to cool down buildings in a cost and energy-efficient manner. According to ES-SO, the European Solar Shading Organisation, the answer is evident: “solar shading will have to become a key element of every building in Europe to prevent it from overheating in the future. Solar shading is the most cost-effective solution on the market, offering a direct impact on health, comfort and saving energy.”

"In Europe alone heatwaves are at least five times more likely to take place"

Simple yet effective
Solar shading is the term used to identify the external and internal systems which prevent overheating by controlling the amount of heat and light from the sun entering through windows and glazed facades. The mechanism of solar shading is as old as the ancient Egyptian, Islamic and Persian cultures. Over the years, many innovative solar shading solutions (such as venetian blinds, awnings, (ritz)screens, etc.) have been developed, and the innovators have established a mature solar shading industry which employs today hundreds of thousands of people across the globe. In Europe alone around 400.000 people work in the solar shading industry. This specialized manufacturing industry which operates alongside the construction industry consists of many global players in the field of high technological fabrics, motorized controls and home automation to manufacturers of the end product itself, to name just of few.

Calculate the impact of heat

To calculate the direct impact on heat and light transmissions key players in the solar shading industry, together with ES-SO, have developed a detailed database and calculation model, named ES-SDA. The European database consists of validated and peer reviewed performance shading data according to CEN/ISO Standards. The tool helps the solar shading experts to accurately advise the building industry on the right choice of automated solar shading and the impact on the indoor climate of the future building. The tool can avoid cases such as this flat in an old converted office building in North London where operative temperatures during a warm September month would reach a scorching 47.5C without any shading. By using external shading (venetian blinds or screens) would have reduced this to a more acceptable 28C.

Prevention is better than cure

Automated solar shading systems prevent rooms from heating up; avoiding the need for artificial cooling, thereby reducing energy consumption and contributing to greater comfort in all weather conditions. However, the amount of energy used worldwide to cool buildings has doubled since the year 2000 and without efficiency gains, even this level could triple again by 2050 . At what cost? Higher energy bills? Even worse, not reaching our climate goals? With regular heatwaves and extreme temperatures, solar shading will be a vital element to prevent buildings from overheating in an energy-efficient manner. ES-SO aims to promote the positive impact of smart solar shading solutions on the management of indoor climate, thereby supporting the ambitious energy efficiency commitments of the EU. According to a study9 of ES-SO in 2015, Solar shading can deliver 22% energy savings and cut CO2 emissions by 137 Mt in buildings in Europe per year.