Those of us of a certain age remember the long hot summer of 1976. Hose pipe bans, reservoirs almost empty, stand pipes at the end of the street and the appointment of a minister of drought. Whilst 1976 was a real exception to the rule, the summer of 2018 has rekindled memories for some people, and acts as a reminder that the UK can get prolonged periods of hot sunny weather.
For some years, scientists have been warning of the climate changes that global warming may bring, and an increase in the average water temperature in our oceans is now becoming a reality. It would seem that hot, dry, sunny summers may become the norm for the UK as well as other parts of Europe.
This potential change in our weather has come at a time when there has been a general move towards an ever “greener” environment. A massive reduction in the use of throw away plastic bags, significant developments in electric and hybrid vehicles and a greater awareness of pollution both on land and in our oceans have all contributed to a general desire to reduce our energy usage.
One area that has become of ever greater interest is that of the solar gain within a building. At one time the only consideration was how to keep a building warm, but that is no longer the case. Modern buildings generally have much larger glazed areas than previous designs, and that coupled with improvements in insulation materials has meant that keeping a building cool can be just as big an issue.
With ever more pressure to reduce the energy use within a building, a passive method of reducing building heat gain becomes a more attractive option. Active solutions such as air conditioning, use electricity, producing yet more greenhouse gases, and require regular maintenance. Passive solutions, such as the shading of glazed areas, does not use electricity, and requires little or no maintenance and therefor has no ongoing costs.
The use of Brise Soleil, or solar shading, as a method of keeping buildings cooler, is becoming ever more popular, as it offers a passive solution with all of the associated “green” credentials that appeal to both forward thinking planning authorities and conscientious end users alike. The use of carefully designed and implemented Brise Soleil can offer very effective heat gain reduction without “costing the Earth”.