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What is Solar Heat Gain and How Do Tensioned Membrane Structures Help?

By April 4, 2019 May 10th, 2019 No Comments

Shading SolutionIn the age of sustainability and energy efficiency, the term “solar heat gain” gets tossed around quite regularly – leaving many wondering exactly what it means and what it has to do with tensioned membrane architecture.

What is the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient?

Solar Heat Gain DiagramAccording 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, for example.

What Does Solar Heat Gain Have to do With Tensioned Membrane Architecture?

Tensioned membrane architecture is an umbrella term for an innovative type of construction that’s characterized by structural forms that are created from the tensioning of otherwise flexible membrane materials over a metal framework – including tensile facades, free-standing formsroof systems, and retractable shade structures.  So, while there are endless options and applications, all types tensioned membrane structures can be designed to support your project’s energy efficiency goals.

Blocking Solar Heat GainBut – how does it work?  Think about how a non-air-conditioned building gets progressively warmer as the day heats up outside.  That’s solar heat gain at work.  However, just as stepping under the shade of a tree on a sunny day can make it feel 10-15oF cooler, shading a building can have the same effect without using any operational energy at all.

Among its many benefits, tensioned membrane architecture provides that strategic shading necessary to block UV rays and reduce the overall impact of solar heat gain – while adding style and aesthetic appeal to the property.

Want to Learn More About Improving Energy Efficiency with Tensioned Membrane Structures?

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.  We provide expertise and support for architects, landscape designers, general contractors, and property owners to develop their custom tensile membrane project ideas and construct iconic structures.

Explore the options for your next project.  Contact one of our experts today by calling 800-422-6827.