Case Studies

MechoSystems Inc.

Innovation in manual and automated solar shading in New York

For more than 45 years MechoSystems Inc. has been a leading roller shade manufacturer, specializing in manual, motorized and automated shading systems. With its corporate headquarters in Long Island City, New York, MechoSystems maintains two manufacturing facilities in Phoenix, Arizona, and Edison, New Jersey, as well as a factory in the United Kingdom.

MechoSystems was founded by Joel Berman in 1969. During the mid-1950s, Berman attended night classes studying architecture while he worked during the day in architectural lighting sales. Before Berman could finish his education he was drafted into the military. Upon returning from serving overseas, he began working in the family upholstery business in Brooklyn.

MechoSystems Inc.Berman would eventually pool his knowledge of architecture, architectural lighting and drapery to create the first commercially adapted roller shade system called the Mecho/5, which is still in use today. MechoSystems focused on shading for a number of years before shifting the direction of the company to becoming a systems-oriented company. “We do a lot of work with daylighting systems,” says Rachel Berman, sustainability program manager for MechoSystems and the granddaughter of Joel Berman. “We started with manual and then expanded to motorization and home integration.” MechoSystems now creates an automated shade system, SolarTrac, which is both predictive and responsive. It automatically raises and lowers shades based on a complete solar evaluation method and the company’s patented ability to use the ASHRAE Clear Sky Model.

Leading the pack

MechoSystems is a leader in the industry in regards to innovation and sustainability. “We commercialized the roller shade and we like to take on challenges that many other companies would not,” says Berman. “We take on any uniquely shaped and/or angled windows and try to create solutions that are applicable to other buildings.”  One example of such a building is IAC by Frank Gehry on the West Side Highway in New York City.

Sustainability has always played an imperative role in MechoSystems’ objective as a company. When Jan Berman, president of MechoSystems wanted to create a shade that was free of PVC and performed like a vinyl shade cloth, the company partnered with McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) to create the first roller shade made out of thermoplastic olefin (TPO). “We’re always looking to bring things to the next level,” says Berman. “We never like to follow suit. We’re always trying to be the innovators of our industry.”

The first specified automated shading project that MechoSystems completed was in the 1970s on what is known as the Gregory Bateson Building in California. “This was one of the first buildings in the country to understand the importance of natural daylight, thermal comfort, and energy savings into account,” says Berman. “The design of the project maximized the use of natural light. It has always been engrained in the company’s mission to create a better building stock.”

Innovation in green building

As a company focused on sustainability, MechoSystems takes advantage of the benefits of attending Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. In addition to a booth, MechoSystems is also participating in the Greenbuild Show Home and the Greenzone. Using the opportunity to reconnect with clients the company has worked with over the years, MechoSystems also generates new customers and finds inspiring ideas in ways to become more sustainable. “We meet with clients we have worked with over the years as well manufacturers and designers who we have collaborated with in the past to create products that meet their needs,” Berman explains. “One thing we do at Greenbuild is communicate with clients to find exactly what it is they are looking for and how we can create something to satisfy their sustainability endeavors.”

Berman feels that the demand for sustainability and green building is going to grow due to the amount of information and networking opportunities that trade shows such as Greenbuild create. “I think designers in this industry like to touch and feel their product; they like to see what they’re buying,” says Berman. “I think the advantage of having trade shows like Greenbuild is that in addition to informational sessions, you have products that you can see and feel. You can actually have a conversation about a product’s environmental attributes or how it can add value to a building pursuing LEED certification. LEED v4 addresses daylight in a more technical manner than previous versions, and our staff is equipped to help guide our clients through that process.”

MechoSystems is a company that plans to experience a fair amount of expansion in the next few years. The company will be looking to focus on the health benefits of sustainability and how numerous green-building methods affect people. “There has been a lot of research done in sustainable building regarding the effects of sunlight in conserving energy,” says Berman. “I think the next step in that is wellness and designing buildings for the wellness of the occupants in mind. Previously, a majority of our clients installed SolarTrac to reduce their energy foot print. Now that studies demonstrate the importance of exposing natural daylight to people during work hours to regulate circadian rhythm, our clients’ interest in SolarTrac is expanding beyond just energy.”

With demand on the rise in the sustainable building industry, MechoSystems Inc. will maintain its status as a leader in innovation in manual, motorized and automated solar shading.

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