Improving performance through control

In the UK automated solar shading and façade management is wholly relevant to the demands of Part L of The Building Regulations and the implementation of energy efficiency measures. However, it is an often overlooked discipline but one which is set to grow.

In general, consideration of shading, whether automated or manual, is left as an afterthought, meaning the developer can incur additional costs and potentially shading will not be as effective as it could be. There is an increasing need to educate developers and design teams about the benefits of automated solutions and the importance of considering solar shading and the control package early in the design phase along with the implications of poorly designed systems. If shades and windows are not automated or effectively controlled ultimately they become inadequate because human intervention is required to raise and lower, open or close on a 24 hour basis. Automatically controlled systems remove the need for human intervention ensuring façade applications are controlled during night and day in accordance with internal and external climate conditions taking account of daylight levels, sun position, temperature, occupancy, time of day and so on.

Effective control of shades and blinds in conjunction with heating, ventilation air conditioning and lighting systems in a building is essential to provide a productive, comfortable and safe working environment for occupants. Façade management systems play a vital role in the prevention of energy waste and reducing the environmental impact of a building by significantly reducing the need for additional cooling and heating if an effective control strategy is considered and applied.

System benefits

When deciding on the appropriate type of façade management system to specify for a building it is necessary to think about what benefits the chosen system will bring to the various user groups. For the building owner, will the system bring a higher rental value, add value and enable flexibility of change if the building layout alters? How might individual tenants be billed for service upgrades such as local control, sun tracking etc? For the building tenant, is the system taking full advantage of the potential for significant reduction in energy saving, is it possible to monitor the system in place to ensure maximum comfort? Can the system be altered or reconfigured throughout the lifecycle of the building and are occupants able to control blinds or shades locally?

For facilities managers is it possible to control shades from a central PC, operate the system remotely and receive feedback highlighting faults as well as considerations for future maintenance requirements. Has thought been given to the simplicity of installation, commissioning and interoperability?

Optimise functionality

These benefits will only be obtained if the system is properly specified, installed, commissioned, operated and maintained. A system specified early in the design process will optimise function and service life and ultimately enhance performance and reduce costs long-term. A complete range of façade management systems have been developed by Somfy and each system available has been developed to meet the often conflicting and changing demands of a wide variety of buildings users and building types.

Starting with Animeo Solo, Somfy’s entry point system leading on to Animeo Compact and Animeo IB+ Premium, all stand-alone façade management systems suitable for buildings with 1 – 16 zones are based on proprietary Somfy bus technology. Each system is able to control any type of façade or shading application and provides comfort, security and energy saving modes along with other commonly requested control functionalities such as glare control, temperature control, wind protection and so on.  More advanced controls are based on open standards; these include Animeo KNX and Animeo Lon. Both are flexible open solutions that can be fully integrated, adapted and future proofed to offer increased energy saving, added value and future cost savings.

Enhancing comfort

Animeo systems have been installed across a range of buildings worldwide, including educational and healthcare facilities, mixed use developments and commercial offices, industrial buildings and private homes. Some recent project examples in the UK include Bow Bells House located between St Paul’s and Bank in the heart of London. Bow Bells House is a joint venture redevelopment project designed by David Walker and HOK international, offering 140,000 sq ft of office space set over seven floors with retail units on the ground floor. The building features large glazed surfaces which provide the building with generous levels of natural daylight. For this project animeo IB+ Premium was specified, a fully automatic control system to serve all of the electronically operated Venetian blinds. The control package sits on the same pc as the BMS, with motor controllers connected directly to the blinds and associated control sensors. The system incorporates a sun tracking function and has been designed to manage solar glare and thermal gain without restricting natural daylight and enhancing comfort.

Another recent development includes Chelsea Football Club’s new multi-million pound training headquarters at Cobham in Surrey, a state-of-the-art training facility where Chelsea’s main training activity takes place. The main building features the latest in training, rehabilitation, medical, pitch and media technology. For this project, animeo was also specified – a fully automatic control system to serve all of the electrically operated solar control roller blinds. Due to the unusual design of this high-tech building which incorporates a large expanse of glass on the south façade, the control system was configured for three different areas of the building.

Each area was split into separate zones, each capable of independent operation based on suntracking to position the blinds for each zone closing progressively from open or vice versa opening from closed according to sun intensity, filtering the light entering the building and minimising the need for local control. For each primary zone, suntracking was programmed via a time sequence for three events per day calculating incident sun angle, orientation and sun intensity. The system can be programmed daily so blinds will be driven to a pre-programmed position and also seasonally so blinds will be driven to a programmed position for each month of the year.

The system is also programmed to provide simultaneous operation in sequence and can be subdivided to afford individual control and operation of each blind or group of blinds serving any room or area from an interface via a key operated switch in the reception desk to override the solar tracking and drive all blinds to open or closed position. In addition, there is a manual control switch which allows individual control of each room or area to any position based on raise/lower input. The system installed also interfaces with the BMS to open and close based on pre-heat or pre-cool or open and close based on a remote override signal to provide comfort and maximising the performance of the building.

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