Research and development of emerging technologies helps shape the way we build, conduct business and make the world healthier and more efficient. The next generation of window, door and skylight technology will be done in a lab with the most up-to-date thermal performance measuring equipment and predictive performance analysis software.
National Fenestration Rating Council board member Rob Tenent, a scientist from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which identifies barriers to and engineering solutions for residential building energy efficiency, presented several new emerging technologies at our Spring Committee Virtual Meeting in March. In his presentation, Tenent spoke about how researchers are leading the way in efforts to explore energy-efficiency options for new and existing homes, including whole-house performance and the interaction of building components. One of NREL’s primary objectives is to align with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America program.
Building America partnerships provide opportunities, educational curricula, meetings and webinars designed to help fenestration and other building industry professionals bring research results to the market and move toward the goal of building more energy-efficient homes. Available resources on residential new construction and retrofits include the Zero Energy Ready Home, Energy Star for Homes Version 3 and using the NFRC ratings label to decipher the energy performance of the home’s windows, doors and skylights.
Emerging technologies include:
- Vacuum insulating glass, which is reported to have two to three times the thermal performance of today’s argon-filled windows, two times longer life and cost the same to manufacture.
- Electrochromic and thermochromic glass, or dynamic glazing, where windows adjust to sunlight in real time. Challenges for widespread use include expense and a complex installation process.
- Insulating technologies, such as aerogel coatings, which block heat from passing through windows, and are making strides in necessary clarity for fenestration applications.
- Photovoltaic window improvements, which include using perovskite, a compound of calcium and titanium that converts sunlight to electricity without darkening the view.
With the DOE and the Environmental Protection Agency implementing national strategies to make buildings and homes more energy efficient, the building industry and the fenestration industry can get a peek into the future of windows.
NFRC’s Emerging Technologies Webinar Series
The National Fenestration Rating Council is connecting with experts and researchers as part of its Emerging Trends and Technology webinar series. These online events are intended to highlight cutting-edge technology and innovations in fenestration that affect the work of NFRC, its members and other stakeholders for the future. From there, NFRC will provide a forum for more specific panel discussions, webinars, podcasts and networking activities that will focus on two specific areas: the impact of emerging technology on NFRC and its members, and early-stage research and funding opportunities. This series aims to introduce manufacturers to the work being done that will impact the fenestration industry in the future, connect early-stage technology developers to industry leaders, and facilitate collaboration on new technology development efforts.
The first emerging technology webinar, on May 20, features V-Glass, a Wisconsin-based R&D firm largely funded by the DOE, National Science Foundation and the state of Wisconsin. The company developed technology that enables the low-cost production of vacuum insulating glass, or VIG. It also has achieved proof-of-concept, completed certain independent third-party testing, designed its first minimum viable product, and will soon begin building a pilot plant to supply its Mark I VIG to its first customer in the historic retrofit market. To learn more about V-Glass, watch this introductory video here.