The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Building Technologies Office held its fourth-annual PEER Review in Virginia recently, and much of what was presented could be beneficial to the fenestration industry. Then again, some of it could be unnerving. I’ll explain.

The primary purpose of the PEER Review is to involve industry experts to judge the various projects DOE is funding as well as allow interested parties to observe. More than anything, I’m seeing the PEER Review transition into a networking opportunity between national labs and industry professionals.

The DOE kicked off this year’s meetings with a summary of 2015 accomplishments, reinforcing its methodology to seed the market with new technologies for more energy-efficient buildings—both new construction and retrofit. There were more than 100 sessions with topics ranging from the building envelope and appliances to energy codes with seven directly relating to the fenestration industry.

A key part of the DOE’s plan is its newly created “Advancing Technology to Market” activity that encourages industry partners to embrace new technologies, as well as provides incentives and recognition for early adopters. One of the most interesting projects being developed at ORNL is a nanoarticle porous silica, which is a potentially transparent insulation better than aerogel.

As I said, there were lots of positives. But … one potentially concerning topic was the market introduction of Low-E Storm Windows, a program that is soon to be one of the first Energy Star attachments.

According to studies conducted by the DOE’s Building Technology office and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), “Installing a low-E storm window over a low-performing window can reduce a home’s heating and cooling costs by 10%–35%.” They are presenting it as a cost-effective alternative to window replacement.

It’s difficult to tell at this point what extent widespread adoption of Low-E storm windows will have on replacement sales. But as an industry we need to stand up and pay attention. As always, the purpose of reporting on this meeting is to keep us all better informed. The View from Here is change can be uncomfortable. But change almost always means opportunity for someone.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you all to review the 2015 highlights and email me directly at eric.jackson@quanex.com with your View.

1 Comment

  1. It would be great to have some recognition that storm windows are still a viable alternative. The historical societies are starting to use storm windows to allow them to restore the original windows. We introduced our exterior laminates on our storm window line a few years ago.

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