What is Solar Heat Gain and How Do Tensile Membrane Facades Help?

By February 15, 2018 No Comments

In the age of energy efficiency, the term “solar heat gain” is being tossed around quite regularly, leaving many wondering exactly what it means and what it has to do with tensile membrane facades.

What is the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient?

Solar Heat Gain and Tensile Membrane FacadesAccording to the Efficient Windows Collaborative (a nonprofit organization that partners with manufacturers, research organizations, government agencies, and others), the solar heat gain coefficient is “the fraction of incident solar radiation admitted through a window, both directly transmitted and absorbed and subsequently released inward.”

Put more simply, it’s the amount of ultraviolet (UV) rays, aka solar radiation, that pass through your window.  UV rays have a heating effect, which means that the more UV rays that enter your building, the more energy you will have to use to cool it.  Over time, those UV rays will also damage physical assets, such as artwork and furniture.

The solar heat gain coefficient is now a regular measure (replacing the old shading coefficient) consumers can consider when purchasing new windows for a property.

What Does Solar Heat Gain Have to do With Tensile Membrane Facades?

Some of the greatest benefits of ventilated tensile membrane facades are their ability to block UV rays and reduce the overall impact of solar heat gain for large-scale facilities while adding to the aesthetic appeal of your building.

Solar Heat Gain and Tensile Membrane FacadesWith advances in the energy efficiency of windows, there are options for reducing solar heat gain somewhat by replacing the facility’s windows, but for high-rise corporate offices or large manufacturing plants, this can seem like an unnecessary and inefficient cost.  Also, once the window replacement process was complete, the building will still rely on unsightly and expensive curtains and blinds to block the glare.

Tensile membrane facades do the work for you by reducing solar heat gain and blocking troublesome glare.  As seen in the illustration, facades are installed parallel to the building’s envelope with some ventilation room between the building and the mesh wrap.  The tensioned PVC or PTFE-Coated Fiberglass membrane reflects some of the UV rays, absorbs and releases some, and allows a small amount to pass through as natural lighting.

While the exact numbers vary based upon the specific fabric being used with a tensile membrane facade, it’s common to see 40% of the solar radiation reflected, 32% absorbed by the membrane and released in the ventilation shaft, and only 28% being transmitted into the building.  This means the interior of the building enjoys diffused natural light without the impact damaging UV rays.

Are Tensile Membrane Facades Right for Your Energy Efficiency Renovation?

In the Tension Structures Division of Eide Industries, we specialize in design, engineering, manufacturing, and installation of structurally complex and creatively challenging commercial, government, and prototype design projects.  Our expertise with tensile facade systems and tension structures supports architects, designers, general contractors, and building owners in their efforts to bring custom tensile membrane projects to life.

Explore the options for your next project by calling 800-422-6827.