How does Solar gain affect buildings, YOU, and the planet?
Do we even realize that we actually make our homes, offices and even hospitals chronically overheat and then just put up with it? It’s no different from not bothering to insulate your home in the winter and leaving the windows open and just cranking up the heating!
Solar Gain is a wake-up call for us. Getting used to something doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful, and the amount of heat that we encounter inside the buildings is both destructive for us as individuals and our planet. If you think that using internal blinds or shutters will solve this issue, then think again, you’re wrong. The Government says so in the new Building Regulation Guidance which totally discounts using internal blinds for combatting heat gain. Shading is one thing, but solar heat gain and overheating are human and climate killers but a ridiculously simple solution is available if you just stop and think about it. Stop the sun from hitting the window (or building) in the first place. This is the simplest yet most technical solution!
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” said Leonardo da Vinci and he knew a thing or two.
Solar Gain Explained
The simple part. Solar heat gain is (short wave) radiation from the sun. It heats the building, either directly into the room through windows or indirectly through the external fabric of the building.
This solar radiation easily penetrates through the glass, heating everything it touches, furniture, floors, walls, and You. This heat has now become a different type of (long wave) radiation. It doesn’t escape so it builds and builds, creating the infamous ‘Greenhouse Effect’ (greenhouse, hothouse, conservatory – call it what you like it’s all the same). This is one of the major causes of global warming and we have been shouting about it for years now. Well, now you know why every single object in your house or office during the summertime tends to be piping hot!
How Do We Combat Solar Heat Gain?
So what do we do about it? We just pour more fuel on the fire by turning up the air conditioning. All these energy-guzzling air-con units then cause a worse Greenhouse Effect by increasing emissions through increased energy use.
Some lobbyists say that this heat gain could be beneficial in the winter season and it does but by how much? Not much! But, there’s always a ‘but’ isn’t there? With the acres of non-opening window glazing now used, in the window, you cook by the glass and freeze away from it. So building overheating happens even in the winter. It’s a real Catch 22.
Almost all buildings need windows and all W/S/E facing windows need protection. It has to be true, the Government Building Regulations say so.
Solar Gain Solutions
The good news is, there is an answer and that’s the External Solar Shading Industry. Architects, designers ,and end-users may take accurate decisions about the type of shading system they require, by understanding the physics behind solar shading. This will help them save money and lower their carbon footprint.
The problem is, just like in life, there is no single 100% perfect solution. Virtually all existing external systems tend to only offer partial solutions because:
- They don’t always cover the whole window so they’re not that effective or
- They block your vision out and essential contact with the outside or
- They cause the damaging reflection to neighboring buildings or
- They distort or block natural daylight essential for our well-being or
- They are not fireproof (tower block fires) or
- They are not sustainable and have limited, high maintenance, life cycles or
- They are not recyclable, with 65% ending up in landfills or
- They can’t operate in high winds which are part of our lives now, even in summer or
- They, …do I have to keep going on?
This is why internal temperatures in our homes and offices are still unbearable in most of the seasons.
BUT, there are solutions with shading systems which can achieve all these things and the Government’s new Building Regulation tells you what they are and how they must work
The new expert Guidance Approved Document O says (apart from saying that internal blinds do not work) that only external shading systems which are ‘Fixed’ and ‘Passive’ and fully laboratory tested be used.
Can there possibly be a system that solves all these issues? It must be hugely complex and expensive.
Remember what Leonardo said?
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
There is an incredibly simple product that ticks every performance criteria box and which complies with the requirements of the Government’s Guidelines and this product is MicroLouvre.