Window shades offer energy savings

Calvert high school’s skylight shades make use of daylighting while reducing HVAC costs.


Click here to see the shades in action. Courtesy: Lutron Electronics Co. Inc.; Produced by TC MotionThe new addition to Calvert High School in Prince Frederick, Md., celebrates the sun, inviting daylight into virtually every corner of its multi-use media center. The addition features huge skylights that are 31 to 41 ft above the floor, more than 35 ft long, and pitched at a 16-deg angle. The skylights span 17,000 sq ft.

Lutron “meet-in-the-middle” skylight shades produce dramatic effects and help the school make the most of the daylight in the space while overcoming design challenges. The shading system was custom designed to fit into the skylight assembly and offers five preset configurations that can be quickly recalled at the touch of a button, allowing the right amount of daylight into the space for any situation or activity. 

“The shades open and close silently, and move in total unison. It’s awe-inspiring. The area is large and dramatic, and when the shades move, you completely change the experience of the space," said Ran Ilkovitch, SEI Design Group, Albany, N.Y. 

One of greatest benefits of the school’s new shades comes in the form of energy savings. The skylight shades allow for varying openness levels to control heat and reduce operating costs. In the closed position the shades increase space flexibility, enabling the space to be used as a media center and projection facility at any time during the day. 

By using thermal imaging, installer Avitecture Inc., Sterling, Va., estimated that closing the skylight shades in the summer will reduce heat gain by 10% to 30% and subsequently reduce air conditioning costs. Alternately, by opening the shades in colder months, the school can take advantage of the thermal heat gain to reduce heating costs.

Joseph Parks is national sales manager, commercial window treatments, at Lutron Electronics.

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