'Automated Facade Control’
Will Perkins - Managing Director - SE Controls

A new guide recently released by SE Controls offers specifiers and contractors guidance on ‘Automated Facade Control’. The guide explains the principles of natural ventilation solutions for all types of construction and how automated solar control systems can be integrated into the facade providing an adaptive facade.

Designed to provide guidance regarding the design, procurement, construction and operation of automated facades, the guide gives the specifier a thorough explanation of all aspects of these key areas for all involved at each and every stage.

Simple and effective natural ventilation is the answer for all our new buildings.

The Need

With rising energy costs and rising CO2 levels natural ventilation has made a strong comeback in the last few years, but there is a complex science behind providing competent systems for various building shapes and intended uses. The use of natural ventilation solutions, can drastically reduce CO2 emissions. Up to 50% of all the energy we consume is used in the buildings we work, play and live in.

It is well known that one of the main areas of energy consumption within our existing building stock are mechanical heating and cooling systems designed to operate in sealed structures. A well designed and installed air conditioning system can offer very effective internal ventilation, but this comes at an environmental impact which is now becoming excessive in both cost and CO2 emissions.

With clients now very careful to reduce costs in business, buildings with good BREEAM ratings and even ‘excellent’ ratings are attracting many new clients. Air conditioning, incorrectly and poorly maintained, can bring on the effect known as ‘Sick building Syndrome’. Well designed natural ventilation solutions virtually eliminates the ‘Sick Building Syndrome’ and require far less costly maintenance.

As older buildings become the target for redevelopment rather than demolition, (which produces greater amounts of CO2), natural ventilation solutions are the key to ongoing sustainability.

Improving Productivity

In schools it has been proven that natural ventilation solutions can effectively  control levels of CO2 within classrooms. Low levels of CO2 are conducive to an active mind and aids the learning process. The same can be said for any areas where people work and learn such as offices, libraries, and government buildings. In hospitals, natural ventilation can help in keeping infections under control by replacing the air naturally as opposed to recycling air as in air conditioning through filters which can house and spread infections.


All buildings whether new or refurbished are totally different and before any advice can be given consideration must be given to the design of areas such as; location of the building, orientation, thermal mass, depth of floor plan, internal heat gains and shading.


Within offices considerations may need to be made for potential later partitioning within the building. Often partitions can be installed, moved or amended affecting the performance of building services. IT equipment and human occupants add to potential internal heat gains requiring sophisticated ventilation systems to mitigate these factors.

A possible solution is to introduce ventilation ‘chimneys’ to provide high level exhaust of warm stale air, and thus generating low level make up air flow through low level vents.

Hospitals have a high number of transitory occupants who may not be familiar with the building or indeed the operation of ventilation devices. The solution here could be the implementation of an automated facade managing the control of ventilation without the need of intervention by the occupants. Blinds or curtains used within wards may restrict air flow much like partitions; reduced airflow will lead to lower air quality and hence infection.

The government is setting low energy targets affecting premises such as schools; currently high temperatures within educational premises are permitted only for certain time durations (120 hours over 28°C per year) yet the government is promoting natural ventilation to ensure schools benefit from the positive attributes of clean air such as reducing sick building syndrome and improving productivity.

SE Controls has over 25 years experience providing adaptive solutions to meet the design intent and ventilation strategy on thousands of projects. More information on systems and services can be found at www.secontrols.com. To discuss a requirement with SE Controls, or request a copy of the printed literature, please call their head office in Lichfield on 01543 443060.

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