Somfy Automated Solar Shading system fosters smart energy management
An ambitious $200 million project to create the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) called for intelligent options to control heat transfer through windows, with the overall objective of ensuring an energy efficient, sustainable result.
The nine-storey 30,000 square metre building, built by Hindmarsh, was devised by a design team that included Woods Bagot (architecture), Aurecon (structure) and Norman Disney Young (building services).
With a transparent façade inspired by the skin of a pine cone, this building makes a striking statement at the western end of Adelaide’s CBD. Its cutting edge design is meant to inspire the staff using the facility to be equally ambitious in their goals to improve health outcomes for the community.
Inside the triangulated dia-grid facade are nine research modules and two internal atriums used by up to 700 employees and researchers.
To permit indoor comfort with a lower energy footprint, the Motorised Vertilux Multi-Blind System was installed and automated using Somfy motors with links to the building management system. This installation was managed by DAAC Holdings.
“Our job was to provide internal glare protection and control internal heat transfer from the atrium area,” says James Idle, Somfy CBS Specification Engineer.
Glare protection was achieved using large spans of blinds with each motor capable of lifting three blinds. Some 217 blinds and 83 motors were installed for this project. “We maximised the shading capability of the building and maximised natural light penetration,” he says.
Somfy is offering a consultancy service to architects to encourage automation for window coverings and to create more sustainable buildings by achieving lighting, heating and cooling goals. “We would like architects and facade engineers to position us on their design teams so we can talk about the possibilities,” he says.
Idle stresses the importance of being involved from the beginning of a project. “HVAC and lighting systems will be sized depending on the natural ventilation and solar shading systems that are being installed,” he says.
He also wants to shed a perception that automation is a luxury extra. “We’re the first line of defence for a building to allow it to reduce its energy consumption, any money spent on introducing a bioclimatic façade to a building will be paid back through reduced energy costs for the lifetime of the building and reduced costs for building elements such as HVAC systems” he says.
For upcoming projects, Somfy is set to introduce its next stage in automation. Shadow management can be achieved through 3D modelling,enabling the company to determine where and when shadows will be cast by other buildings. Processes can be built into the system to ensure blinds are raised or lowered depending on the circumstances.
Also available is greater integration with lighting systems, heating, ventilation and cooling. “Sensors can recognise when the light quality is below a certain level to allow the lights to increase in their intensity,” he says. “When the blinds go up, the lights are turned off.”
Similarly, internal temperature can be controlled by permitting air conditioning to be turned on or off depending on a signal from an internal temperature sensor. Automated natural ventilation is increasingly becoming an option and goes hand in hand with automated shading solutions from the extensive Somfy range.