Day two of the Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference began with a look at several emerging technologies that could change the way glass facades are designed and constructed. The event, organized by the National Glass Association, ended today in Nashville. One session Tuesday morning a look at insulating glass retrofits, 5G glass antennas, and transparent photovoltaic coatings.

Anas Al Kassas discussed insulating glass retrofit solutions during the BEC Conference.

Anas Al Kassa with InoVues began with a look at his company’s retrofit insulating glass system. He pointed out that buildings are responsible for 40% of the energy loss in buildings, and many buildings today still have single-pane glass, while others still have older lower-performing glass.

Presently, many cities are now targeting windows among their building efficiency requirements and offering incentives for owners to retrofit their buildings. But there are some problems preventing traditional retrofits, he said. These include high costs, business/occupant disruption, and unrealistic payback.

Kassa says his company’s product is like a full window replacement but not as costly. The system uses the existing windows as part of the solution, requiring 70% fewer materials than traditional retrofits. The system is also pre-fabricated offsite and over-glazed, allowing installation without disrupting operations.

He added that the system could also be combined with other glass products, such as dynamic glass, to provide even more benefits. He added that the cost-benefit analysis studies they’ve done show payback is under 10 years.

Mika Partanen with Stealthcase Oy wasn’t able to attend in person, so provided a virtual look at his company’s technology, which can transform low-E glass can from a wireless connectivity blocker into an enabler. He said this is because low-E kills indoor connectivity. Coated glass constrains modern wireless communication and today’s buildings are incompatible with 5G, Internet of Things and future mobile communication technologies.

His company developed a laser treatment that turns glass into an undetectable antenna that requires no power. The process treats the glass edge with a laser antenna pattern, and fabricators can use the technology to make the building facades “signal transparent.”

“Fabricators are in a good position to enhance and future-proof building connectivity,” he said, explaining they can add significant value to building infrastructure.

The third presenter, Miles Barr with Ubiquitous Energy, talked about his company’s transparent photovoltaic coatings. He began with the question: “What if every surface around us could generate invisible renewable electricity?” As an industry, he said, we love to build with glass. So the goal is to make it work from an energy perspective.

His company’s glass looks completely transparent, like ordinary low-E glass.

“Our technology is based on the concept of letting visible light through,” he said, explaining the glass is designed to match standard window glass. He described it as a low-E insulating glass unit that also generates electricity.

Ubiquitous Energy’s technology is about more than just transparency. The glass also has to meet all aesthetic requirements of a low-E coating: neutral color, high clarity, defect-free, and non-obstructive views.

Used on a vertical surface of a building, Barr said the project can have up to 50 times more surface area compared to installing solar panels on a rooftop. The energy produced can offset up to 30% of the building’s electricity.

The BEC conference concludes today. Stay tuned to USGNN™ for more news from Nashville.