Solar Shading Products and their effect on Overheating, Well-being, Productivity, and Sustainability in the UK Built Environment

PhD Thesis

De Grussa, Z. (2021). Solar Shading Products and their effect on Overheating, Well-being, Productivity, and Sustainability in the UK Built Environment. PhD Thesis London South Bank University School of Engineering
AuthorsDe Grussa, Z.
TypePhD Thesis

Blinds and shutters have long been identified as effective methods of attenuating daylight, reducing glare, and managing the thermal gains and losses through the glazing in a building. Shading products can provide energy savings and alter the internal environment to improve occupant comfort. Changes in occupants’ perceptions of their comfort can have a subsequent effect on their perceived health, well-being, and actual productivity. Currently, the extent that differing shading products reduce internal temperature increase in UK homes is not well understood. Furthermore, the way shading products alter the internal environmental conditions overall and how these variations affect an occupant’s health, well-being, and productivity has not been fully investigated.
If shading products are used to obtain the various performance benefits, they require occupants to operate (open and close) them effectively. More sophisticated shading products incorporate motors and sensors to improve the operation of such products. These systems require a large number of natural resources, so an assessment is needed to identify whether the operational energy savings provided from the use of shading products outweigh the environmental impact of the products themselves throughout their lifetime.
To explore these gaps in research, three real-world, two laboratory, and one desktop study were conducted. Two of the real-world studies were carried out in domestic buildings (an apartment and a semi-detached house) and the third was conducted in a non-domestic office. Data was collected when the shading products were extended and retracted, and statistical analysis was used to compare the data. In the domestic studies, quantitative data were collected relating to the internal temperature conditions. In the non-domestic study, quantitative and qualitative data were collected relating to the changes in a broader range of internal environment conditions and the experiences of the occupants in open and closed blind conditions. This included investigating occupants’ perceptions of comfort, health, well-being, and their subjective and objective productivity.
The domestic studies showed that when internal and external shading products were closed, there was a significant reduction in internal temperature increase when comparisons were made between a room with and without shading. Shading products mitigated overheating risk, suggesting that they can improve the thermal comfort of building occupants in warmer weather conditions in UK homes. Of the two system types tested, external shading was most effective.
The non-domestic study results confirmed there are both positive and negative benefits to having shading products extended in warmer conditions. The objective productivity of occupants was both negatively and positively affected and this differed depending on the type of task or cognitive function being tested.
The two laboratory-based studies investigated the acoustic performance of internal shading products which are conventionally installed in UK buildings. This investigated the impact they have on sound reverberation and the acoustic transmission of sound. Overall, the results showed internal shading products can reduce reverberant sound and how they are installed (specifically the distance from the window) affects the amount of reverberant sound absorbed. It also identified differing fabrics have different capabilities in reducing sound transmitted into buildings. However, further research is needed to quantify the impact of the transmissive properties of shading fabrics when installed in a real building.
The desktop study involved a screening Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of an external automated Venetian blind, an internal motorised roller blind and an internal manually operated roller blind. The LCA incorporated the real-world semi-detached house previously investigated as part of the functional unit to carry out the LCA. The operational energy savings of the different types of
shading products assessed were stepped as the energy saving potential of shading products varies depending on how they are used and operated. The comparative analysis of the three shading systems suggests the control strategy (automated, motorised, or manual) alters how much operational energy needs to be saved and how long the shading product must be installed for before it becomes environmentally neutral and then environmentally beneficial.

PublisherLondon South Bank University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
Online29 Oct 2021
Publication process dates
Deposited19 Jun 2023
Additional information

This research programme was carried out in collaboration with the British Blind and Shutter Association

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Related outputs

Surprising results from a Post Occupancy Evaluation of the way internal roller blinds impact perceptions of visual discomfort
De Grussa, Z., Andrews, D. and Newton, E. (2022). Surprising results from a Post Occupancy Evaluation of the way internal roller blinds impact perceptions of visual discomfort. CIBSE Technical Symposium 2022.