Halcyon Shades: Energy Efficiency & a Carbon-Free Boston

In our previous blog posts, we took a look at active daylighting systems that can work to help the City of Boston achieve its goal of becoming carbon-free by 2050. Today we look at the energy-saving power of Halcyon Shades, which can integrate with Somfy’s Animeo system, and discuss their possibilities for improving energy efficiency in the context of Boston’s ambitious goal.

Energy Efficiency

To begin, we must note the energy efficiency that Halcyon Shades enable. Halcyon shades reduce 99.9% of harmful UV rays, reflect 80% of solar heat gain, and reduce glare by 97%, providing a return on investment in as little as two years in energy savings. By deriving figures from the Department of Energy’s EQUEST energy modeling software, Halcyon Shades have been shown to save 10 – 25% on a building’s energy spend. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories has confirmed that the metalized polyester material used in the shades can reflect energy, preventing it from penetrating into the building. In addition to this, Halcyon shades are eco-friendly, with third-party verification confirming that these shades contain no PVC, PFCs, VOCs, formaldehyde or antimicrobials. They also meet NFPA 701 standards, reduce energy spend, and reduce carbon emissions.

halcyon shade in boston

Furthermore, Halcyon shades can be integrated into a Somfy Animeo daylighting solution. By combining Animeo’s intelligent building controls, motor controls, local controls, and a full array of sensors and additional accessories with Halcyon’s energy-efficient shades, any building owner, developer, or manager can increase energy efficiency by decreasing HVAC demand and electricity needed for lighting. This allows electrical energy to be diverted elsewhere in the city where it is needed more.

Somfy Animeo & Halcyon Shades

As discussed in our previous blog post, Animeo is able to adjust shades automatically based on the sun’s position and glass façade orientation, taking into account shadow management and real-time weather conditions. It also allows for easy manual override, giving building managers and occupants control over nearby shades. When Halcyon’s energy-saving shades are integrated with the sustainable and scalable Animeo solution, energy usage and costs are drastically reduced, allowing for a building’s electricity to be redirected to a place it can be more efficiently used. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that implementing such shades and systems into Boston’s new and existing buildings will dramatically aid in the city’s goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050.

Lutron Hyperion: Daylighting to Save Energy

In our last blog post, we looked at Boston’s ambitious goal of completely eliminating its reliance on carbon-based energy by 2050, with all energy in the city coming from carbon-free sources by that year. We discussed how daylight harvesting systems can help with this goal by reducing energy consumption through appropriate automated shading and lighting controls.

One example of an active daylighting system that can help Boston on its way to becoming carbon-free by 2050 is Lutron’s solar-adaptive Hyperion system. Hyperion automatically adjusts shades throughout the day in response to the sun’s changing position, which both saves energy and reduces solar glare and heat gain. Information about the building’s location and glass façade orientations is analyzed to create customized shade schedules that maximize the amount of useful daylight, thus reducing energy consumption by minimizing or eliminating the need for supplemental electric light.

Wireless Radio Window Sensors add further functionality to Hyperion by accounting for varied conditions such as weather or shadows from adjacent buildings, reporting live exterior conditions and then adjusting shades accordingly. Also, the Hyperion software allows facilities’ staff to manage electric light and daylight for maximum energy efficiency, comfort, and productivity. Manual override is available as an option for specific instances. Hyperion’s automated shading maintains ideal light levels while also lowering demand on a building’s HVAC system by preventing solar heat gain. It can reduce lighting energy use by 65% or more, and Hyperion is scalable from a single area or individual building to a campus with multiple buildings.

Hyperion also integrates seamlessly with Quantum, Lutron’s lighting control and energy managcement system, designed to further improve energy efficiency by adjusting light in tandem with shades through smart lighting control. Quantum is a single data and management platform for connected buildings, delivering a simple and consistent user experience from a PC or tablet. Customizable alerts, space utilization reports, occupancy trends, and energy reports all provide actionable data to improve building layout, defer capital expenditures, deliver a more energy-efficient space, and reduce a building’s carbon footprint.

The report issued earlier this year by the Boston Green Ribbon Commission indicated that “…nearly every building in Boston will need to undergo retrofits that holistically and dramatically reduce energy consumption.” Buildings currently account for more than two-thirds of Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions. By utilizing an active daylighting system such as Hyperion in a building, energy demand is reduced, and electric energy can therefore be redirected elsewhere. This reduction in energy consumption subsequently leads to carbon-based sources of energy being phased out, as they are no longer needed due to more efficient energy management.

Keep an eye out for our next blog post, where we’ll be exploring another active daylighting system: Mecho’s SolarTrac 4.0.

A Carbon-Free Boston by 2050: How Daylighting Can Help

By 2050, the state of Massachusetts aims to have 80% of its energy provided by carbon-free sources, but the city of Boston is planning to one-up the state by becoming 100 percent carbon-free by then. A report published in January of this year details the findings of a team of experts from the city, outside consulting firms, and Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, who were tasked with researching how Boston can become 100% carbon-free. The report found that the city must pursue interconnected strategies in three key sectors: first, deepen energy efficiency while reducing demand; second, electrify as much as possible; and third, purchase 100 percent clean energy.

When it comes to buildings in the growing city, the report has stated, “Nearly every building in Boston will need to undergo retrofits that holistically and dramatically reduce energy consumption.” New buildings must meet high energy performance standards, and existing buildings will need deep energy retrofits. Through the implementation and utilization of daylight harvesting systems, Ver-Tex Construction has the opportunity and capability to help with both requirements, in order to aid the city in becoming carbon-free by 2050.

Daylight harvesting systems utilize daylight to offset the amount of electric lighting needed to light a space, thereby reducing energy consumption by using lighting control systems that dim or switch electric lighting in response to daylight levels. The most efficient daylight harvesting systems are automated and maintain a light level of 500 Lux (the commonly recommended light level for offices). Daylight harvesting can be sub-divided into passive daylighting and active daylighting.

daylighting also known as daylight harvesting used in a commercial office building setting

Passive daylighting collects sunlight using static, stationary systems that do not track the sun (like windows, skylights, and sliding glass doors) and simply reflect collected daylight into a building, using elements such as light wall colors, mirrored walls, glass paneling, and light shelves. Passive daylighting systems do not use mechanical means to track or follow the sun.

Active daylighting tracks sunlight using mechanical methods. Mathematical formulas based on sun path charts, in combination with sensors or lenses that detect light levels, are used to predict and maximize the amount of natural daylight present in the space. Electric lighting is then adjusted based on the available daylight in the space. A lighting control system module and automated light switching devices are used to dim or turn off fixtures as needed, in order to maintain optimal lighting in the space.

In commercial buildings in the United States, including Boston, the single largest operating cost is lighting, with lighting systems representing one-third or more of a commercial building’s total electrical energy costs. Additionally, lighting systems constitute 30% to 50% of U.S. office buildings’ total electrical energy consumption. By implementing daylight harvesting systems into new and existing buildings, Boston can drastically reduce its energy consumption while also ensuring that optimal lighting levels are maintained. This reduction in energy consumption through daylight harvesting would greatly assist the city in reaching its 2050 goal by allowing the massive amount of electrical energy previously needed for lighting these buildings to be redirected elsewhere.

In our next blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the daylight harvesting systems that Ver-Tex Construction offers, which can all be used to help Boston achieve its ambitious goal of becoming carbon-free by 2050.