BIO-INSPIRED RESPONSIVE SHADING SYSTEMS (A Comprehensive Review of Shading Systems Inspired by Nature)

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Global warming is a problem mankind is currently facing. The building industry accounts for 40% of the total energy consumption and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions and thus plays a critical role in addressing global energy and climate forcing issues. In the middle east, all buildings have HVAC systems to maintain thermal comfort. The energy produced to maintain these systems generate greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. The energy used primarily for cooling loads in the region accounts for nearly 50% of the total energy consumed in buildings, which is a very high level compared to other developed countries. Having a high-performance envelope in a building always helps in reducing energy consumption. However, a responsive shading system can help even further in energy performance and increase thermal comfort. Where better to get inspired to design a dynamic shading system than from nature. The term biomimicry is what nature offers to solve problems in architecture or in engineering. Mother nature should always be the number one source of inspiration for designers, where they can find the best ideas and opportunities to create and innovate new technologies. This paper explores bio-designed dynamic shading systems of modern buildings already built. It discusses the various types of shading systems, the inspired biological systems, the materials used, and the mechanism. Modeling and simulations are also performed to assess energy performance, visual comfort, and thermal comfort. Comparisons between the shading systems will be shown as it’s important to show their performances in different categories. After investigating the case studies, a new responsive shading system inspired by nature will be designed to have an effective and efficient performance in terms of shading, energy, and visual comfort. A focus will be done on the actuation of the shading system, as the actuation is a key component of the entire system. A summary of the case studies and the new shading system is eventually done to show the similarities and differences between the systems. The paper concludes by offering recommendations and setting guidelines for architects and engineers when innovating a responsive shading system for buildings in the future.