Incorporate metal mesh into your next project to help earn LEED points

July 12, 2017

The demand for solar management solutions has never been greater. As the A&D community works with facility managers and building owners to reduce the environmental impact of built spaces and meet new LEED standards, they need a variety of products that look great and offer substantial performance benefits over traditional façades.

Woven metal mesh fabric from GKD is one solution to this complex problem. Available in a wide variety of patterns, textures and finishes, our products reduce solar-generated heat gain when installed as part of an exterior or interior building façade. GKD metal fabric also provides lighting benefits within a building, making space more comfortable for occupants. Additionally, solar management technology allows specifiers to plan ahead for the solar heat gain coefficient (the shading measurement used throughout the U.S.) of a building.

How Does Solar Management Work?
One of the primary benefits of solar management is reducing solar heat gain by intercepting sunlight before it enters the building through glass windows or other building material. Our products have been tested in conjunction with a constant glazing for their solar properties in order to calculate an architect’s specified glazing values. This allows the architect to determine the total façade solar heat gain coefficient. Since the fabrics have been tested, the architect can measure the solar heat gain coefficient before specifying a product, preventing any unnecessary design processes. By understanding the visible light transmittance and visible light reflectance, the solar heat gain coefficient can be determined.

Metal fabric also provides attractive design elements while attaining desired sunshading and daylighting effects. Energy is saved by reducing the need for interior lighting and cooling maintenance, along with minimizing the costs of air conditioning. In addition to these benefits, metal façades provide transparency, which helps foster positive indoor environments.

With increasing advancement and benefits of sustainable building products, metal fabrics allow architects to easily address the challenge of creating appealing designs while addressing solar management. Metal fabrics are inherently durable and long lasting, but they are more than just resilient to time and weather.

Earn LEED Points
Metal fabric contributes to LEED points in a variety of ways. The product itself is eco-friendly and constructed from completely recyclable materials. Our products endure years of use without requiring replacements that cause hassle, cost and more exhaustion of materials. Should a metal fabrics façade cease to be needed for any reason, the 100 percent recycled stainless steel fabric can be put to use once again in another setting, rather than languishing amongst post-consumer waste material.

With additional performance benefits that allow filtered sunlight to replace artificial lighting, metal fabrics avoid further energy expenditure. GKD metal fabrics ultimately contribute to LEED points in the following categories:

  • Energy and Atmosphere points by reducing air conditioning and lighting electrical loads
  • Materials and Resources points because it’s made from recycled material and is recyclable
  • Sustainable Sites points when used as an overhead sunshade to reduce the heat island effect

Designed for the Phoenix Sun

Arizona State University built the 223,000 square foot Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Communication building in downtown Phoenix to provide classrooms, office space and a home for the local PBS affiliate. The architectural team was challenged with a strict design-build timeline and the need to create a structure that was aesthetically impressive and environmentally responsible.

GKD Lago was selected to contribute to the project’s sustainability needs. Formed into 64 panels (a total of 2,400-square-feet) of sunshades, the stainless steel fabric covers a continuous band of windows on the west side of the building. The mesh protects the glass against damages while allowing light to penetrate deep into the building. The transparent AISI type 316 metal weave mitigates solar heating, but allows easier viewing of flat-screen TV’s and computers, and because of the transparency of the mesh, building occupants can still see a view of downtown Phoenix. On top of its ability to provide a clear view, filter daylight, and save energy through natural lighting, the durability and maintenance-free nature of the Lago mesh was also a contributing factor in its selection.

For increased aesthetic appeal, the architects used a variety of colors and textures in building materials, as well as including glass-encased staircases that protrude from the school to prevent a boxy feeling. The sunshades added an interesting texture over the glass, working both functionally and aesthetically.

A New Gold Standard

Another prime example of innovative solar management stands across the Atlantic in the port city of Calais, France. The Ecole d’Art de Calais (Calais Art School) was recently reborn as part of a massive infrastructure investment by the city. The three curved outer façades of the new structure, constructed of golden Escale metal mesh from GKD, are reminiscent of roller shutter cabinets lined up next to one another, reflecting the workshop character of the art school.

While the bulk of the building is constructed of cost-reducing prefabricated concrete pieces, the glossy, metallic skin from GKD is what stands out most about the project. The semi-transparent metal mesh performs the function of a protective membrane between the outside world and the internal life of the school. Artistic intimacy and the public’s declared wish for transparency are taken into account. In the evening, the metallic façade is transparent when the building is lit up, granting unhindered views of the interior of the school.

During the day, the reflection of the sun’s rays transforms the art school into a shimmering gem while offering glare and solar protection – the façade filters soft light for the east-facing studios while preventing the interior of the building from heating up. It also offers a pleasant environment for students and a valuable contribution to the ambitious sustainability concept of the art school.

Learn More About GKD Solar Management Today
Are you interested in learning more about our solar management products? We encourage you to contact our team and order material swatches. GKD will create a made-to-order sample box containing the fabrics that interest you most, or send you our signature sample box that contains our most popular weaves. Learn more here.

How can we help?

As your turnkey design and engineering consultants, we are here to assist you through the entire design-build process. Please tell us how to reach you and how we can assist.