Let The Sun Shine

by Katie Lee

Energy-saving roller shades are not just for sun protection.

By Ric Berg

It seems the ozone layer is becoming more and more of an issue. Even with measures being put in place, “global warming” is becoming a factor we are all dealing with, increasing the earth’s temperatures year after year.

For a typical restaurant or retail space, windows account for nearly 50% of the heat gain/loss, depending on the season. The benefits of installing roller shades to reduce the solar heat gain have been a research topic for many years. The ability to understand and control cooling loads in a commercial environment has been crucial to not only restaurant and retail facility managers but architects, engineers and building designers.

Harbor Freight Amhurst NY 3Good for the Environment, Economy and Its Occupants

Roller shades have been a proven solution to affect energy use by reducing solar gains generally entering buildings through the windows. They also increase natural daylight without obstructing views while reducing the carbon footprint of your location. There are systems available that will allow sun tracking options so when the sun goes up and down, the shades track with it, which allows the space to have the maximum natural light into the room while reducing direct UV rays.

Both energy use and comfort are crucial issues in the restaurant and retail industries. Energy use is important for economic and environmental factors while comfort affects customers’ experience and employees’ productivity.

Pei Wei Pine Crest FLRoller shades are excellent for temperature control, reducing glare to the registers and cutting the intense light coming into the retail space. While not compromising aesthetics, the roller shade fabric is designed to block the ultraviolet rays and lower the temperature, thereby reducing the load on air conditioners’ output and energy use.

The shades’ fabric is low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound), therefore it virtually eliminates off-gasses of this material. The fabrics are Greenguard-certified and fire-resistant. There are literally hundreds of colors and densities available to match your decor with darker colors offering the best glare reduction and visibility and lighter colors having the best heat reflection. The fabrics also come in different densities, which will determine your visibility and ultra violet ray intrusion. These options provide a stylish way to reduce your heating and cooling costs.

There is a new, revolutionary fabric on the market that has all the characteristics of dark colors with the same heat reflection as lighter colors. It was created first for the military to be used in the deserts of the Middle East to deal with the intense heat; the materials had to be dark but also reflect the heat. This technology was used in manufacturing the fabric and is one of the more popular fabrics on the market.

Studies have shown that identical buildings facing the same elevations with similar temperatures have experienced a 15% to 75% reduction in energy costs by installing roller shades. In addition, using roller shades can add up to 10 LEED points in four different categories for LEED-certified buildings. Many fabrics are manufactured using a chemical called Microban, which is an anti-microbial that kills bacteria-an excellent solution for any restaurant.

Benefits of Roller Shades

Untreated windows allow about 20 times more heat into a location than an equal amount of insulated wall space. By controlling the way the sun’s energy enters the building, restaurants and retail businesses can save on energy bills in the summer and take advantage of “free” heating in the winter.

Starbucks Chino 1Roller shades are an excellent way to save energy. They provide insulation during the cold winter months and repel the heat during the summer. The benefits of deflecting the sun’s heat in the summer months include:

• Lower energy bills.

• Little to no glare (winter months as well).

• Reduced carbon footprint.

• Less fading of product and furniture.

• A comfortable environment for customers and employees.

Immediate and Long Term Results

Natural light can be a beautiful design element. Managing the sun’s heat and glare can be accomplished with sun control fabrics. Choosing the right fabric for your roller shade will diffuse light, reduce glare and help control interior temperatures. Sun-control fabrics effectively provide energy-efficient solutions by reducing the amount of solar gain.

When roller shades are installed in restaurants and retail buildings, a reduction in heat is experienced immediately with a discernable drop in interior temperature levels, creating a comfortable environment for customers and lower cooling costs with an increased customer satisfaction experience. Commercial buildings should budget roller shades during the planning process to realize maximum savings on cooling costs over the time of occupancy.

Roller shades come in a variety of systems and options, including manual and motorized. Shop around and find the design that works best for your facility.

— Ric Berg is vice president, business development – national accounts at Roll-A-Shade in Riverside, California, and a LEED Green Associate.

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