It’s hard to believe that just 10 years ago Apple® revolutionized the world of music with its first-generation iPod®. We’ve come a long way in a short time with smartphones getting smarter by the minute and Google Glass taking communication to a new, rather strange, level. It’s a testament to how rapidly the world moves in terms of advancing technologies.

Gadgets are one thing, and fenestration technologies are another. But our time is coming.

Last year, President Obama announced in a State of the Union address that we have a national goal of reducing energy losses in buildings by 50 percent over the next 20 years—and windows are a big part of the plan. In February 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Building Technologies Office (BTO) released its “Windows and Building Envelope Research and Development: Roadmap for Emerging Technologies,” which outlines how we can help achieve that lofty 50 percent reduction, as well as the cost to get us there.

Priorities and Payback

It is evident in this report that the DOE has become much more concerned with payback on various energy saving technologies with the release of the Prioritization Tool, a key component in shaping the technology roadmap that attempts to evaluate payback and value of projects based on a variety of assumptions. The hope is that by 2025 highly insulating windows would have a payback of less than six years.

Summary of Priority Windows and Building Envelope Research Areas and R&D Cost and Performance Targets


Source: U.S. Department of Energy EERE Building Technologies Office, “Windows and Building Envelope Research and Development: Roadmap for Emerging Technologies,” February 2014

As a follow-up to the release of the technology roadmap, the DOE held its second annual peer review in which existing grant-funded projects were reviewed by industry experts to judge the merit of continuing funding. Some of these projects included:

  • LBNL – Highly insulating Residential Windows Using Smart Automated Shading
  • NREL- Dynamic Windows
  • LBNL – CERC: Advanced Window and Shading Technologies
  • PNNL- Dynamically Responsive IR Window Coatings
  • NREL- Vacuum Insulation for Windows
  • ITN Energy Systems – Low-Cost, Highly Transparent Flexible low-e Coating Film to Enable Electrochromic Windows with Increased Energy Savings
  • LBNL – Fenestration Software Tools

In addition to these project reviews, considerable emphasis was placed on market transformation and code adoption/enforcement, which are seen as the biggest barriers for achieving the energy savings goals.

Being Leaders

After attending this meeting, it’s clear that tremendous changes would have to take place to reduce energy use in buildings by 50 percent in the next 20 years. But, the DOE has a track record of successes with low-E coatings considered among their greatest accomplishments in building materials.

“The View from Here” is that our industry should be on the lookout for grant funding opportunities and closely watch these projects as they progress. As Steve Jobs said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

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