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Green AV Shines Light on Window Shades

Mar 5, 2008 12:00 PM, By Linda Seid Frembes

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According to LEED specifications, the goal for daylighting is to promote enjoyment, energy efficiency, as well as health and productivity of the building occupants. Campbell says that there are several studies linking increased light levels with increased student performance.

One such study was completed in 1999 for the California Board for Energy Efficiency. The board commissioned a study on the effect of increased daylight on student learning. The report was prepared by Pacific Gas and Electric Company and funded by California utility customers. The study focused on several school districts across the United States, including the Seattle school district.

The report states: “The elementary schools in Seattle had a large range of conditions. Mostly older, the schools range in age from eight to 90 years old. Most Seattle elementary schools have substantial windows with clear glass, although a few have minimal or no windows.”

After a review of each building and the student population test scores, the report found: “All other things being equal, students in classrooms with the largest window area, or the most daylight, were found to be testing 9 percent to 15 percent higher than those students with the least window area or daylighting. A 6-percent-to-7-percent effect is observed for skylit classrooms.”

For schools that are interested in automated shading systems but are housed in older buildings, there are still plenty of options. A new generation of ILT motors, as well as motors with built-in radio receivers, give users flexibility. “With ILT motors, you have the ability to put the control in the motor. You can run one circuit of power, and there is no extra real estate required for control modules,” Childress says.

Fabric selection for shades are also important, and option are usually either opaque or mesh in dark, light, or duplex fabrics. Dark fabric controls glare, light-colored fabric does well with reflecting sunlight, and duplex fabric is white on the outside and dark on the inside. “The choice depends on the needs and uses of the room. It is best to choose for performance rather than trying to match interior design colors,” Childress says.

“Solar shades are not just passive window dressing anymore; properly selected and installed, they now a dynamic and active part of today’s bioclimatic façade,” Campbell says.

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