Energy & Environment

Development of Super Windows Could Save Billions in Energy Costs

The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) is working with manufacturers to bring a “super window” to market that is at least twice as insulated as 99 percent of the windows for sale today. The window could potentially save billions in wasted energy.

According to LBL researchers, the “thin triple” super window design doubles the thermal performance of cur-rent Energy Star-rated double-glazed windows and is seven times more insulating than a single-glazed window. LBL scientists have built and tested prototypes and are now working with Andersen Corp. and Alpen High Performance Products.

“Our approach is to attack the problem from two sides: to develop both ‘market pull’ and ‘technology push’ forces,” said LBL researcher Steve Selkowitz, one of the inventors of the super window concept. “We are working with manufacturers to assist them with their technology challenges while also working with Energy Star, supply-chain companies and utilities, which can offer rebates and incentives for consumer purchase. Our role is to be a catalyst in facilitating technological innovation and an evangelist in promoting DOE’s energy-efficiency mission.”

The LBL super window sandwiches a third layer of very thin glass between the two layers of a double-glazed window, adds a second low-E coating, and re-places the argon gas with krypton, which is much more insulating than argon in the very narrow space between the panes.

While there are other triple-glazed windows on the market, this one is the same width and nearly the same weight as existing double-glazed windows. Because of that, the window sash and frame don’t have to be redesigned.

Energy use associated with all aspects of window performance, including heating and cooling, costs U.S. building owners about $50 billion annually. LBL researchers want to get to the point where windows could outperform insulated walls in winter. With their thin triple super window, they say that goal may now be within reach.

“A single layer of glass has an R-value, which is its resistance to heat conduction, of R1; double glazing is R2, and the low-E double is R4,” said researcher Charlie Curcija. “Our thin triple glazing is R8 to R10, or about twice as good as the best low-E double glazing today.”

The super window was first invented and patented by LBL more than 20 years ago. But at the time, there were no viable sources of large sheets of very thin glass, and the cost of the materials made it prohibitively expensive.

“The thin glass is 0.7 mm thick,” Curcija said. “Twenty years ago we couldn’t find any companies that could make thin glass sheets in volume. Now the flat screen TV industry has pushed the glass industry to create precisely the glass we need for windows, and at a price the window market can afford.”

Report: Energy Efficiency Employment Climbs

The field of energy efficiency employed 2.25 million Americans in 2017 who manufactured, designed or installed energy-efficient products, according to the recently released U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER). That includes manufacturers of glass and windows, as well as glaziers and installers of other fenestration products. These products were either certified by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star pro-gram or installed according to Energy Star guidelines.

The report, which was produced by the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) in partnership with the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), examined employment trends in four sectors: energy efficiency; electric power generation and fuels production; transmission, distribution and storage; and motor vehicles.

About 1.3 million jobs are in the construction industry, a decline from 2016. However, energy efficiency jobs in manufacturing, trade and professional services all increased. Advanced and recycled building materials and insulation technologies, which includes glass, windows and doors, also supported a significant amount of employment in construction and manufacturing — about 350,000 jobs. Roughly 200,000 are in construction and about 75,000 are in manufacturing.

Energy efficiency employment was projected to have a growth rate of 9 percent through 2018, the highest of the four sectors studied. Construction employers expect energy efficiency job growth of 11 percent by the end of 2018, while manufacturing will grow 9.9 percent. In all, the energy efficiency sector added 67,000 net jobs in 2017.

EE Global Forum Tackles Efficiency Issues

Hundreds of energy leaders from nearly 50 countries joined the Alliance H to Save Energy in Copenhagen for the 11“ annual Energy Efficiency Global Forum in May.

“We need this pioneering spirit. We need a sense of exploration,” said Dr. Bertrand Piccard, initiator and chairperson of the Solar Impulse Foundation. Piccard said the world’s approach to energy is like continuing to fill a leaking bathtub instead of fixing the leak. “We always want to produce energy when instead the goal should be to consume less,” he said. But “it’s clear that the biggest market today in the world is to replace the outdated systems we use with clean new technologies.”

Attendees spread across the UN City campus for intensive learning sessions on various efficiency trends, with a focus on financing, investment and global markets. During the session on “Spurring a Building Efficiency Movement: Connecting Global Platforms to Create Change,” the Alliance and the World Resources Institute hosted a round table discussion on how the building efficiency community can leverage existing global platforms and partnerships to create an effective global building efficiency movement.

A second panel moderated by IEA Head of Energy Efficiency Brian Mother- way explored efficiency‘s role in the ongoing energy transition and emerging climate policy, featuring Joyce Henry, Director General, Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada: and Clean Energy Ministerial Head of Secretariat Christian Zinglersen.

Greentown Labs Opens Cleantech Innovation Center with Saint-Gobain’s Support

Greentown Labs, a U.S.-based clean technology incubator, officially opened its expansion site, the Global Center for Cleantech Innovation. Saint-Gobain contributed building science expertise to renovate the historic building, which was designed using two of its brands: CertainTeed and SageGlass. Approximately 830 square feet of SageGlass electro-chromic glass was installed on the third floor of the center to help achieve the building’s sustainability goals while creating a workplace that optimizes employee well-being by maintaining outdoor views and preventing heat gain and glare.

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