Today, we in the shading business face a similar call to arms. That's because, very soon, the same understanding visited upon automakers and other industrialists will be standard operating procedure for our business as well. Here's why. The world can no longer afford to be non-energy efficient. End of statement. Perish the thought, you say. Are you telling me we will be forced to think like our ancestors, many European, who practiced conservation from day of birth? Yes, I am.
For instance, did you know that. . . .
· Americans represent four percent of the world's population and use 40 percent of the world's energy?
· Exterior solar screening shades can reduce air conditioning loads by more than 60 percent?
· Interior solar screening shades can reduce air conditioning loads by more than 23 percent?
Do you recall a year ago when you paid $1.19 for a gallon of regular gasoline, or when we had an ozone layer and the greenhouse effect wasn't a household word? Me, too.
We all know those days are over. Whether we keep our entitlements of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness depends upon our response to the need for conservation and utilization of natural light. Let's face it, the sun can be our friend or enemy. Depending on how we treat this power source we can make it an energy efficient partner, as Europeans do, or a continued lost opportunity-ultimately with dire consequences, if not for us then for our grandchildren.
HARNESS THE POWER
Twentieth-century architecture and associated heating and cooling costs are dictating more efficient use of solar shading. That's because, increasingly, modern building elevations have large glazed surface areas that capture natural light and create solar radiation problems inside. Consider this, normal glazing admits 88 percent of solar radiation, 80 percent of which is transmitted directly.
That solar radiation is absorbed by walls and furniture and is converted to long wave radiation, which in turn is blocked by the glass creating the aforementioned greenhouse effect. In buildings with 50 percent or more of unprotected windows exposed to the sun, the temperatures in closed rooms (which is most of them) is 10 to 15 degrees higher than those outside. Effective use of solar shades mitigates that heat, allows for higher temperature settings and permits visibility when the shades are down. They are virtually maintenance free.
Even those unconnected with our business would agree that those are good reasons to control sunlight levels. Proper use of shades really does harness the power of natural light and means less need for artificial light as well. Such management results in:
· Solar protection
· Reduction in interior heat gain
· Energy savings
· Glare reduction and provision of diffused light
· Elimination of interior furnishing fading
· Increased productivity
· Daytime privacy
· Maximum control of environment
· Increased quality of life
Through it all the ultimate aim for a public at work or play is comfort and convenience. In either setting an ideal shading system should permit sufficient natural light without glare. Screens (interior or exterior) with transmissions factors lower than 10 percent are sufficient to avoid glare from the sky and values from one to two percent are needed for protection against the sun. Such shades are available from a variety of sources.
The point is this: Increasingly architects are considering the role of light in new millennium architecture. We, in the window treatment industry, are in a prime position to influence the nation's solar protection preplanning for optimal comfort and energy efficiency management.
Fact: North Americans are subject to 4,000 hours of natural light per year. Our decision in the first year of the 21st century is to either capitalize on this gift or disregard it. Accepting the challenge of conservation offers a far brighter and more profitable future.
Tony Lovette, is president of VIMCO Shading Systems, an authority on natural light control. It is a subsidiary of Lutron Electronics, a leader in artificial lighting control systems.