N e w s A n a l y s i s : S u n s h a d e s  
Shedding Some Light  
Where There’s Shade  
ptimal solar control and easy-on-the-eye aesthetics are two key elements of modern building  
design. Sunshades can help architects achieve both.  
Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering the use of this product in your next  
project:  
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Solar Control Taking Hold  
Fred Grunewald, vice president and general manager of Graham Architectural Products, says  
proper integration of sunshades enables architects to lower the solar heat gain and reduce ener-  
gy consumption in a building without compromising the use of glass on the exterior.  
For this reason, the use of sunshades has increased in recent years due to an uptick in sun  
studies and attention to the impact of solar control on a building, according to Tom O’Malley,  
director of sales at Clover Architectural Products.  
Sunshades have always been an aesthetic feature and have been touted for their solar con-  
trol, but they did not always have the back-up to prove they belonged on the building,” says  
O’Malley. “They were often the first item value-engineered off when budgets were tight or sim-  
ply to make a job easier.  
“Now, buildings are designed with the value and benefits sunshades bring, and this includes  
the building’s HVAC and lighting systems. Sunshades can help keep a building cool in the sum-  
mer and contribute passive solar heating in cooler months. They can have a huge effect on reduc-  
ing building peak heat gain and cooling requirements while also having a positive effect on the  
natural lighting ability quality of building interiors.”  
Still About the Looks  
Grunewald says solar control remains the main demand driver for sunshades, evidenced by  
the fact that they’re often only specified for certain sides or elevations of a building.  
However, they’re undoubtedly an aesthetic design element as well—in both horizontal and  
vertical applications.  
[They can] accentuate the structural features of an elevation or create a three-dimensional  
look in an otherwise two-dimensional–and somewhat flat–non-descript building elevation,”  
adds Grunewald. “This is especially true when sunshades are incorporated within a curved or  
segmented section of an elevation.”  
Even when they’re specified for solar control, architects who want to maintain consistency  
and continuity throughout the building façade will include them on other sides and sections as  
well. This may mean the solar-control section features sunshades that protrude farther off the  
building than those on the others. “Looking at the building, you can’t always tell the depth of  
sunshades,” says Grunewald.  
O’Malley agrees that sunshades can offer “a great eye candy effect” to the exterior.  
cutlines.W.. e have seen the use of much larger extrusions and the snapping of sometimes two, three or  
even four extrusions together to make a unique shape,” he says. “We often see lighting features  
built in to the system where they can attach LED lights and help illuminate certain parts of a  
building.”  
O’Malley adds that some applications call for sunshades to have certain point loads so they  
can be stood on for glass cleaning. “In vertical applications we have seen the use of hinges for  
access to the curtainwall behind them, and perhaps even a grill/grating used as a sunshade and  
a catwalk in between a double curtainwall.”  
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Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal  
Other Factors  
Careful attention must be paid to the structural aspect of sunshades, particularly in northern cli-  
mates that are susceptible to large amounts of snow and in areas vulnerable to high winds.  
Grunewald says it’s crucial to spread the load of the sunshade throughout the entire elevation and  
to consider how snow can be removed. The closer elements are together, the less space for air flow and  
greater impact for snow or ice damage.  
He says, however, that despite these considerations, he sees as many applications of sunshades in the  
north as in the south. “The sun is still going to be there,” he says.  
O’Malley says a main concern architects have with sunshades is how they can be integrated into a  
curtainwall system.  
We try and alleviate their concerns about how this is done and who is responsible for what,” he  
says. “Sometimes they are given misguided information from a curtainwall manufacturer that only  
wants their material used as a sunshade but has a limited design offering.”  
Despite this, he says most curtainwall manufacturers are willing to participate on some design-assist  
work with the sunshade provider, and that kind of collaboration benefits everyone.  
Depending on the  
application, sun-  
Ultimately if we can both come up with a solution, then we both get the opportunity to have our  
shades can provide  
both solar control and  
aesthetic attributes  
for a given project.  
products on the building and make an architect and owner happy,” he says. “We work out all the loads  
our system will impose and offer guidance on additional support that may need to be built into the cur-  
tainwall mullion.” AGG  
Fall 2016  
www.glassguides.com  
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