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MechoShade's Good Guy
If I were to give out prizes for environmental good guys, one of the first would go to Jan Berman of MechoShade.
Though I had been specifying his company’s solar shades for years, I first met Jan at the EnvironDesign conference in 1997. MechoShade was, for those of us who designed interior spaces in glass-faced buildings, the window covering de rigueur – a clean, crisp look that preserved the view while controlling direct sunlight and glare.
I was just learning about the correlation between reducing solar heat gain and energy savings but Joel Berman, Jan’s father and company founder, had been researching see-through roller screens – the fabrics, weaves, openness, color – since the early 70’s, and began to understand how they worked with different types of glazing and contributed to occupant comfort and well-being. For many years MechoShade was the only supplier of solar shades and its products were installed in many of the early landmark energy efficient projects.
Today, under Joel and Jan’s leadership, the company’s products have evolved far beyond those original shades to a wide range of advanced roller-shade systems, shade control systems, and almost 200 different patterns and colors of visually transparent shadecloths. All of the advances, whether they are technical or aesthetic, conform to a commitment to sustainability at a level that is rare in our industry.
Jan became determined to develop a PVC-free cloth after reading Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart’s book Cradle to Cradle. EcoVeil evolved according the MBDC protocols and has received a C2C Silver certification. It is also GreenGuard certified, can be reclaimed and recycled, is durable and washable, anti-microbial, flame retardant and optimized through continuous improvement by MBDC.
Equally impressive is Solar Trac, the company’s daylighting management system. It will automatically adjust the position of the shades by solar exposure to maximize view and daylighting while protecting people, computer screens and work surfaces from direct sun when and where needed. I experienced the system while attending a meeting at the new USGBC headquarters offices. The shades were down when I entered the east-facing room and began to incrementally rise as the sun moved west, removing occupant control – traditionally a problem – and restoring the health related benefits of controlled natural light and views.
Jan is passionately dedicated to the principles of sustainability. He deserves a prize.