FRP Composite Sun Shades

Office buildings in major cities are very expensive to maintain. Not only is the rent typically on the higher end, but the utilities tend to cost more as well especially in the summer. 

The hottest months of the year send the electricity bills skyrocketing due to the cost of air conditioning. Keeping all of the offices at a cool 68°F to 70°F is not cheap.

pultrusion capabilities guide

However, now there is a way to cut down on the cooling bill without making drastic changes to the building. This can be done by using fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composite sunshades.


Fiber reinforced polymer sun shades for a San Francisco retrofit project.

Pic Credit: Composites Manufacturing Magazine

Keeping Things Cool

Recently, business owners in major cities have had FRP composite sunshades retrofitted to their office buildings. Functional, practical, and aesthetically-pleasing, these innovative sun shades help keep the offices cool and the energy bill low.

One example of an office building with new FRP composite sunshades comes out of San Francisco, CA. Located on Folsom Street in the South Market area, a mid-century office building was in desperate need of updates. Five floors were added to the structure. The lobby and ground floor retail facility both underwent an entire redesign.

Once the renovations were complete, the engineers decided to address natural lighting, environmental performance, and the issue of shading. The goal was to recreate a more energy-efficient building.

Bringing in another team of engineers and architects specializing in FRP composites, the decision to retrofit sunshade cladding was made. Ensuring that the sun shades were made from fiber-reinforced polymer composites was the next step.

Why Choose FRP Composites?


Carbonhaus is the first building made of fiber reinforced concrete.

Pic Credit: Composites Manufacturing Magazine.

In order to retrofit cladding that would be both functional and aesthetically pleasing, the team needed a material that would be flexible enough to adjust for solar angles and strong enough to withstand the high winds. FRP composite sunshades met both of those requirements, and they have several other benefits as well.

FRP composite materials were put through rigorous wind tunnel tests to ensure that they would be able to dampen vibrations from high winds without becoming compromised. These materials excelled at the task. Next, the pultrusion process for these custom sunshades began.

Initially, the pultrusion process is the same for every piece. Fiber bundles were pulled through a liquid resin bath and injected with additives and colorants according to what the client wanted. The variation came during the curation process.

The sunshades began to take their final form in a particular mold that was designed to meet the solar angles for this specific building. The beauty of FRP composites is that they can be created to a client’s specific requirements.

Once the sunshades were finished curing, they could then be transported to the office building and installed. Since FRP composites are lightweight and manufactured in manageable pieces, they are much easier to install, and it costs less to have them shipped.

In this particular project, each piece of cladding was attached to a curtain wall module. This was done using a pre-attached Z-shaped adapter made from aluminum.

It doesn’t take much effort to install attachments to FRP composite pieces. Holes can be pre-drilled once the pieces have finished curing, and the sunshades can arrive at the job site ready to install.

When the sunshades arrived at the San Francisco office building, workers were able to easily attach them with screws to the aluminum fins on the curtain wall frame.

Once that step was complete, the team could then attach the entire unit to the exterior of the building. Because of the way the sunshades were installed, they are easily accessible and can even be removed.

Overall, 680 sunshades were installed on this particular office building. Each one measured 6’ in width and had a graduated depth of 1’2” to 2’2” from the second to the twelfth floors. This gradual increase in depth was meant to accommodate the changing angle of the sun throughout the day.

Customizing Pultruded Products

FRP composites are some of the most customizable products available on the market today. Available in semi-transparent, translucent, and opaque finishes, you can even have pigments added for colorful options.

Recently, customizations were taken to the next level with the successful creation of curved pultruded products.

Used for industrial fan blades and as the new rear bumper for the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, curved pultrusions are just another way to customize your product to meet your specific needs.

Other FRP Composite Benefits

As we mentioned briefly before, the benefits of FRP composite materials are numerous. Not only are they highly customizable and resistant to high winds, they are also non-conductive and resistant to corrosion, impact, heat, moisture, and even insects.

When you think of a sunshade, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the old-fashion awning for porches. Generally, these are wood or metal poles that have been attached to a porch to spread a heavy piece of fabric overhead. While these might work as short-term solutions, they are not ideal in the long run.

Wood poles are highly susceptible to rot caused by water damage, and metal poles can easily rust out in the elements. Fabric decays over time due to exposure as well. You will never see this type of sunshade used on the upper levels of any building. They are simply impractical.

FRP composite sunshades can handle almost anything nature can throw at them. Pultruded products require little to no maintenance, and they have a lifespan of up to 80 years.

You won’t have to worry about damage caused by exposure to the elements such as sun, wind, or rain. Overall, any type of FRP composite upgrade made on a building is a great investment.

Our Company

Here at Tencom, our experts have been in the business of pultruded products for over 22 years. We specialize in various applications of fiberglass, and we can customize your products to meet your specific requirements.

From window reinforcements to sporting goods and everything in-between, our FRP composites will last longer than any competing wood or metal products. Get in touch with us today to find out more or to request an estimate.

tencom pultrusion capabilities and products