Well-designed shading and sun control devices can reduce building peak heat gain and cooling requirements dramatically, as well as improve the natural lighting quality of building interiors.

Building designers looking to increase the environmental rating of their building can incorporate a sun shading system to keep a building cooler and therefore decrease the need for mechanical cooling.

For example, Dejan Tesevic from Issey Sun Shading Systems comments: “Not only do sun shading systems reduce annual cooling energy consumption, they can also improve user visual comfort by controlling glare entering the building.”

Designers, particularly those designing from scratch, will often prefer to use architectural elements such as permanent awnings, overhangs and light shelves to remove the need for additional sun control systems.

However as Tesevic suggests, a lot of his products are sold for ad hoc projects, alfresco dining arrangements and outdoor seating areas where these permanent design elements aren’t as applicable.

Additionally, he points out that while moveable shading systems require maintenance and eventual replacement, advancements in technology and material innovations have led to better warranties to suit.

He says more and more building designers are turning to operable shading systems to further facilitate their architectural shading incorporations.

Here is a list of some of the sun shading systems on the Australian market and their best applications. Follow the links for more information on specific products and suppliers.

External Blinds

In order to improve the indoor temperature quality of your building, blinds must be placed externally rather than internally otherwise no radiation is prevented from heating the window and therefore the interior space. Blinds are the cheapest option, but have limited application in non-air conditioned buildings as they seriously impede air flow into the interiors.  Blinds also reduce the same amount of radiation as they do useable diffuse daylight , and in this sense, don’t perform as well as other options.

Tesevic did however alert to new innovations in exterior blinds including the use of transparent fabric, which mean views and some diffuse daylight aren’t compromised. Adjustable louvered blinds also address the need for passive solar heating in winter.  

The Issey Sun Shade Systems Vertiroll and Issiroll (above) are examples of these improvements.

Retractable roofs:

Used commonly in hospitality, balconies and alfresco applications, the retractable roof is the most expensive but also the most seasonally versatile, says Tesevic.

“They are an all year 100 per cent fully retractable water proof system that are good in all seasons and temperatures,” he said.

“On summer nights you can retract to view the stars and encourage airflow, in winter you can have a fully enclosed space.”

“Basically it comes down to control, this system offers the most control for the user over their entertainment area.”

Place Makers Architects utilised a completely operable roofing system for their Mosman project to create a completely flexible outdoor-indoor room. Full story here:

Adjustable louvres

“These systems are again good at letting sunlight in when needed but also good for keeping water and sun out when needed; they are 100 per cent waterproof,” said Tesevic.

“You can tilt them either way to let as much light in as you need or close them when it’s raining.”

Adjustable louvres such as the above model from Vergola create an extra outdoor room for entertaining which can also be attractive for home buyers.

Vergola claims that their system can reduce air temperatures by up to 18 degrees Celsius compared to an aluminium roofing solution.

Folding arm awnings

Folding arm awnings are commonly used in residential projects and also as an alternative to steel awnings on retail buildings.

They expand anywhere up to 3.5 metres, can be motorised and come in many different fabric choices. In terms of price they are somewhere in the middle of the range depending on your choice of materials.

Choices include aluminium versus stainless steel extrusions, manual versus motorised options and a multitude of operable systems such as remote, wall switch and building management system control.

Tesevic explains that they are usually dynabolted onto the external wall but if this is not possible, for example onto a fascia board, then other bracket systems can be used. 

 “The main difference between suppliers is in the quality of the extrusions and fabric as well as the span distance,” Tesevic said.

“They are flexible because they are fully retractable and require no additional poles or supports.”

Architectural umbrellas

Architectural umbrellas such as the above Viva Sunscreens model can withstand winds of up to 130 km/hr. They are have a waterproof, UV resistant, anti-fungal PVDF coating fabric and wind rated steel frame construction.

Tesevic explained that umbrellas are a popular choice for isolated areas that need sun, wind and water protection.

“They are very good for wind resistance and they are quite waterproof,” said Tesevic.

“They differ from traditional umbrellas that you buy at a hardware store in the quality of the canvas and how they are fixed to the ground.”