Edward Mazria explains The Zero Code to NFRC meeting attendees.

When the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) met for its fall meeting, the keynote speaker outlined how glass can play a role in reducing our carbon output. Another speaker from the Department of Energy (DOE) talked about research funding available, possible commercial field studies and more.

Edward Mazria, founder and CEO of Architecture 2030, gave the opening keynote and started with a bold statement: “We know now that we are in a full blown climate emergency. Fossil fuels and CO2 emissions are the issue of the day and timing is everything.”

His conversation centered around climate budgets, and how to get to a carbon positive environment by 2040.

“We have to address existing building operations, new building operations, materials construction and the infrastructure that connects it all,” he said. “For new buildings we have to bring all new buildings in at zero carbon. It’s already in the codes.”

Mazria is referring to The Zero Code, which is currently in the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). He reported that China has also developed a Zero Code, but they just need to get cities to start adopting it. At the end of this year and beginning of next year, European countries are expected to have this in place as well.

But the real dilemma comes into play in regard to existing buildings, which are responsible for almost 50% of all emissions.

“So how do you then get to government policy for these existing buildings?” he asked, and then answered. “You establish a threshold, and establish a big building emitter policy. By 2030, you have to electrify those buildings and use renewable for the electricity. You have ten years to do it, and you need to provide incentives to get people to go first.”

He said that adding these types of policies will not only reduce building operations by 65%, but will save a huge amount of embodied carbon.

“Solar is now the cheapest form of electricity in history. Every time you use this you are replacing fossil fuel energy,” said Mazria, adding that glass can play a huge role toward this end.

“On the horizon, every glass installation can be a solar provider which can help get us to zero carbon operations,” he said. “The way we address zero carbon is to promote low carbon materials such as glass. In glass we are talking about energy efficient improvements and electrifying where possible.”

Though it seems daunting, Mazria said the building industry can achieve these benchmarks.

“Yes we can meet the carbon budget—it’s up to us. We are the gatekeepers and we can do this,” he said.

Additional speakers that day, including Mark LaFrance, windows technology manager on the emerging technologies team at the DOE, concurred that the glass and window industry have a huge role to play and opportunities abound.

“There are a lot of activities we have been working on at DOE, and you will hear about some work NFRC is doing on commercial glazing,” he said. “We think that is a major need that has been lacking. Hopefully this can be a precursor to additional activities for commercial products.”

He also informed the industry that $80 million is available for research and development, and this includes research for window technologies.

“I would like you to make me extremely busy by getting your proposals in. We usually don’t have a lot of opportunities for windows so you should take advantage of this.”

Another opportunity he mentioned includes the fact that the DOE has been trying to initiate a commercial field study regarding thin triples.

“We want to show building owners that by installing this they can significantly reduce the capital expenses on HVAC,” he said.

“These are areas where the industry can lead and increase the market value to the industry.”

Note: For more info about the Funding Opportunity Announcement mentioned by LaFrance and to submit an application, CLICK HERE. Concepts must be submitted by 5 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, November 5 to be eligible to submit a full application.


  1. ALL Great ideas.
    An impressive product moving forward for consideration should be Vacuum Insulated Glass (VIG). It is out there, ready to go, and we have recently installed it….check out VIG Technologies @ vigtechnologies.com
    Oh, the tested u values are around .08, or better than an r value of 12.

  2. Thank you Ed and Mark for emphasizing the crucial role that windows and glass facades will have on meeting The Zero Code and getting to zero carbon operations. NEXT Energy Technologies also believes windows will need to play a key dual role of conserving AND producing energy if we are to have any chance at a net-zero carbon future. Our transparent BIPV coatings integrate seamlessly into low-e IGUs enabling what Ed says is on the horizon: every glass surface will produce electricity from the sun.

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