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Energy saving technique ignored in the Gulf

External shading should form part of regulations, expert

A major method of reducing energy costs and protecting buildings from the hot and bright summer climate of the Gulf has been almost totally ignored by regional developers, consultants, architects and municipal authorities. Externally shading a building can cut up to 80% of the heat flowing into a building say experts but it is an unused technology in the Gulf.

What stops architects and clients from using the technique is the perception that external shading does not add to the aesthetics of a building. Gulf developers and owners prefer their edifices of steel and glass au natural. To restrict excess sunlight and heat entry into buildings in the Gulf, designers have depended on thick glass. The result is high-energy consumption to cool the buildings’ interiors, while at the same time providing enough light to ensure optimal working and living conditions.

Very few buildings have any protection in the form of external shading. “Shading that is used on buildings is mostly implemented as limited awnings,” says Anne Schneider, project manager at the German Industry & Commerce regional office in Dubai. She pointed out that external shading is part of municipal regulations in Europe and is standard in most buildings on the western part of the continent.

Schneider, along with Warema, a leading European producer of external shading systems with an employee base of 2200, has approached the Dubai Municipality with the suggestion that external shadings be promoted in the city and the region.

They maintain that external shading does not necessarily take away from the look of a building. “The problem here is that there is a love affair with glass facades. The major focus is on appearance. People are afraid that external shading can spoil the appearance. Here buildings have a high demand for architectural aesthetics, but with external shadings there are always solutions,” says Wolfgang Bender, Warema area sales manager. Warema will showcase the technology at the Big 5 show in November.

“We can combine design and technical efficiency. And, with population in the Gulf increasing at a very fast pace and with economy growing rapidly and tourism shooting up, it is very important to respond to the demand on energy,” he said.

He pointed out that with normal glass window protection, 80% of the energy still gets into the building, but external shading can achieve rates of just 20%. Moreover, there are special solutions that allow for reflected light so that rooms have enough light to live and work by.

“External shading has a variety of possible uses, but it needs to get incorporated into a project at the specifications stage. Consultants need to get it in at the architectural design stage,” Bender pointed out.

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