Following the Sun
The need to control energy—its effects and costs—is having an impact on many professions within the building industry including architects, designers, engineers, material manufacturers and construction companies. More relevantly, natural comfort has increasing appeal as a lifestyle for consumers in their homes.
Many organizations and manufacturers realize this and are actively promoting the benefits possible through alternate energy sources, by using and controlling the sun’s energy, and by designing environments around renewable energy.
The Swiss-based Transatlantic21 has taken a lead in promoting sustainable energy by creating the World Clean Energy Awards, and it brought the idea to the United States in a dramatic way: a solar powered catamaran that crossed the Atlantic Ocean without using a single drop of fuel. The boat’s arrival in New York City in May was used to announce the creation of the awards.
Transatlantic21 is supported by a number of energy-conscious organizations around the world. In window coverings, the French-based Somfy and Somfy North America sponsored one of the seven award categories. Somfy, says Wilfrid Le Naour, CEO, is committed to endorsing clean energy uses, while its products provide energy savings in homes and commercial buildings. Somfy’s approach has been to develop technological solutions to reduce energy consumption through motorized exterior and interior window coverings that can be managed through centralized software that also can link HVAC systems and lighting.
The main challenge is to increase awareness among the various players including retailers, specifiers, electricians, research and development institutions and the consumer.
AWARDING THE BEST
The World Clean Energy Awards recognize the best projects worldwide that implement and encourage the broad-based use of renewable energies and energy efficiency concepts. Transatlantic21, the Swiss association that developed and financed the solar boat Sun21, is the driving force behind the awards.
The arrival of the Sun21 in New York, the first motorized vessel to cross the Atlantic using only solar power, was the kick-off for the first meeting held by the jury members for the awards. The year’s jury was under the chairmanship of German professor and author Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker.
Institutions from across the world nominated 70 candidates from 20 countries for the first World Clean Energy Awards, which were presented in Basel, Switzerland, on June 15. The awards recognize the new standards being set for the use of clean energy solutions and were presented in seven categories:
• Construction (new, urban development, rehabilitation)
• Transport and Mobility
• Production (agriculture, mining, industry, utilities)
• Services, Trade and Marketing
• Finance and Investment
• Policy and Lawmaking
• NGOs and Initiatives
Michael Lee, president and CEO of Somfy Systems Inc., Cranbury, NJ, announced the nominees in the Construction category at a reception held the evening of May 8 in New York. Somfy was the exclusive sponsor of this category.
The award winner in this category was Hammarby Sjöstad, a new district on the waterfront in the center of Stockholm, Sweden. The district will offer 10,000 apartments to 25,000 residents by the time it is completed in 2016. From Day One, the city of Stockholm has imposed tough environmental requirements on buildings, infrastructure solutions and traffic. The project’s overall goals include reducing its total impact on the environment by half when compared to any similar, conventionally developed new city district. Additionally, all waste and wastewater coming from the inhabitants will be recycled and returned to the area in the form of renewable energy. To date, half of the city project is complete.
In an exclusive interview with Draperies & Window Coverings, Lee explained that Somfy’s involvement with the World Clean Energy Awards fits with the company’s business concepts of providing comfort, security and energy savings. Somfy has expanded its focus from single-application to whole-home solutions under its Home Motion program, which covers motors and controls for exterior products such as rolling shutters and retractable awnings as well as interior window coverings and screens.
Environmental comfort and energy cost control also are important in commercial applications, and Somfy offers programs to control openings for buildings, too. The idea is to link the exterior of a building with its interior environment to create efficient, economical and aesthetically pleasing workspaces that ultimately affect a business’s bottom line.
To present the Home Motion concepts to retailers, designers and business partners, Somfy has created the Experience Center in Boca Raton, FL. The functional showroom features automated and interactive interior and exterior window coverings, lighting and home theater systems. It was created with the understanding that in the future, most homes and buildings will be built with the environment in mind.