Managing Solar Reflections from the Building Envelope

A Meta-Analysis of Case Studies

Overview

Authors

Photo of Ryan Danks, B.A.Sc., P.Eng.

Ryan Danks, B.A.Sc., P.Eng.

Senior Engineer

Rowan, Williams, Davies & Irwin (RWDI) Inc.

ryan.danks@rwdi.com

Photo of Joel Good, M.A.Sc., P.Eng.

Joel Good, M.A.Sc., P.Eng.

Principal

Rowan, Williams, Davies & Irwin (RWDI) Inc.

joel.good@rwdi.com


Keywords


Abstract

Understanding how a building will reflect sunlight has gone from a rare requirement to a key consideration during the planning permission process in many jurisdictions. This increase in scrutiny has led to an increase in interest in how problematic reflections can be reduced or eliminated through the design of the building envelope. Despite this interest, there is often a lack of awareness in how effective different mitigative approaches will be under various circumstances, and of the side effects that mitigation measures can create. This paper aims to fill this knowledge gap through a review of several real-world examples where problematic solar reflection impacts have required mitigation, either in the design stage or post-construction. The benefits and challenges associated with the different mitigation approaches are compared, and the criteria for selecting one approach over another are developed through an analysis of these case studies conducted by the authors and others.

Introduction

How a building reflects solar energy was a topic that traditionally did not receive serious scrutiny during building design and permitting. Most regulations and guidelines that did exist were vague

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Urban Reflections Causes and Impacts

An in-depth discussion on the physics and consequences of reflected light in the built environment is outside the scope of this paper and can be found in other works (

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Defining the Need for Mitigation

While frameworks exist in literature for defining reflection impacts (Danks, Good and Sinclair 2016a), there are currently no universally accepted criteria for defining when mitigation is required. It is incumbent

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The Mitigation Toolbox

Reflection concerns are often investigated in the later design phases (if at all). This means that three approaches are typically pursued to mitigate problematic reflections: modifying facade materiality, obstructing the

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Conclusions

Ideally, features to control reflected light would be incorporated during the earliest phases of design. More commonly, mitigating elements are added later in design, and in some cases during or

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank all those who provided suggestions and comments on this text. We also acknowledge the support of our employer in the preparation and publication of this work.

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