Shading can be provided by natural landscaping or by building elements such as awnings, overhangs, and trellises. Some shading devices can also function as reflectors, called light shelves, which bounce natural light for daylighting deep into building interiors. 

There are many different reasons to want to control the amount of sunlight that is admitted into a building. In warm, sunny climates excess solar gain may result in high cooling energy consumption; in cold and temperate climates winter sun entering south-facing windows can positively contribute to passive solar heating; and in nearly all climates controlling and diffusing natural illumination will improve daylighting.
Well-designed sun control and shading devices can dramatically reduce building peak heat gain and cooling requirements and improve the natural lighting quality of building interiors. Depending on the amount and location of fenestration, reductions in annual cooling energy consumption of 5% to 15% have been reported. Sun control and shading devices can also improve user visual comfort by controlling glare and reducing contrast ratios. This often leads to increased satisfaction and productivity. Shading devices offer the opportunity of differentiating one building facade from another. This can provide interest and human scale to an otherwise undistinguished design.