Louvres are a popular architectural feature that can provide many benefits to buildings and their occupants. One of the most significant advantages of louvres is their ability to create breathable buildings with natural ventilation, making them an important consideration when looking to create more sustainable and environment-friendly structures.
Louvres are vertical or horizontal slats designed to admit air and stop rain from getting in. They are often installed into openings of a building as part of an overall ventilation solution. They can include adjustable configurations that allow occupants to control the amount of light, air, and heat that enters the space. This flexibility makes louvres a versatile solution for managing the climate of a building and reduces the energy consumption of heating and cooling systems.
One of the key ways that louvres reduce the carbon footprint of buildings is by providing natural ventilation. Wind forces and the buoyancy of hot air lead fresh oxygen supply into the building to reduce temperatures and increase thermal comfort. This enables the exchange of air between the inside and outside of a building, eliminating the internal build-up of stale, stagnant air.
Natural louvre ventilation lowers the reliance on mechanical ventilation systems that use energy to circulate air. This reduces the amount of electricity consumed by the building, decreasing the emission of greenhouse gases.
Historically, most buildings were naturally ventilated. Over time, they have been modified with the addition of airflow-inhibiting partition walls and energy-hungry mechanical ventilation systems. As the world seeks to reduce energy consumption, the value of natural ventilation and mixed-mode ventilation is being realised across the architectural and building industry.
There are limitations, as natural ventilation cannot reduce humidity. However, occupant comfort is not contingent on just the temperature of the air. It is also conditional on the quality of the air. Research shows that air quality in naturally ventilated buildings is higher than in mechanically air-conditioned buildings. By utilising a hybrid mix of natural louvre ventilation and mechanical air conditioning, we can reduce energy consumption while still achieving occupant comfort.
Louvres blades also reduce the need for mechanical systems by providing shade. When adjusted to block sunlight, louvres prevent overheating during summer, reducing the workload of air conditioning units. In winter, louvres can be adjusted to allow sunlight to enter the building, providing passive solar heating and reducing the need for artificial heating systems.
Louvre ventilation is a cost-effective solution for sustainable building design. It is relatively inexpensive to install and can be integrated into the design of new buildings or retrofitted into existing structures. In addition to the practical benefits, louvres can also enhance building aesthetics. They add visual interest to facades and contribute to an attractive and inviting building design.
Alongside this, most louvres are manufactured from aluminium. Aluminium is 100% recyclable, long-lasting and highly corrosion resistant. It has one of the most sustainable production lifecycles of any metal. For projects focussed on lowering carbon footprints, there are now lower-carbon aluminium options available to produce more sustainable products.
Overall, the use of louvres in buildings provides a range of benefits that help to reduce the carbon footprint. By providing natural ventilation and shading, louvres can reduce the energy consumption of a building overall. As such, they are an important consideration for those looking to create more sustainable and environment-friendly structures.
Image: Louvreclad Oxford Series Operable Louvres