Where Will the Money Go? Industry Companies Talk About their Projects Earning DOE Grants
July 6, 2010

Last month the Department of Energy (DOE) announced awards of more than $76 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Fourteen companies in the building envelope and windows category were selected to receive awards, which will support advanced energy-efficient building technology projects and the development of training programs for commercial building equipment technicians, building operators and energy auditors (CLICK HERE for related article). Some of those building envelope and window companies say the funding will go toward a range of projects, all focused on increasing the energy efficiency performance of buildings, both commercial and residential.

According to Fred Millett of Pleotint LLC, the West Olive, Mich.-based company that received a grant of $402,547, the award will help fund a competitive test of its sunlight responsive thermochromic laminate material made into an IG.

"The test is to be conducted over the course of a year so we can get real data," explained Millett. "The second part of the test is to compare the actual energy used versus energy modeled using the EnergyPlus computer model developed by the DOE at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. Last year a model of thermochromic windows was added to the EnergyPlus program, so part of the test is comparing the predicted energy used (by the EnergyPlus program) to the real world energy used, to see if the EnergyPlus program is accurate. A third part of the test is making windows with our laminate material for demonstration projects."

He adds, "Our laminate film allows the window to adapt to sunlight; we maximize daylighting and minimize solar heat gain. This will provide a direct comparison of energy used by an adaptive window, with our configuration, versus an industry standard configuration of fixed tint/low E- IG." Millett says their project is expected to take 18 months.

Eversealed Windows Inc. in Evergreen, Colo., received a $2, 169,327 grant that David Stark, company president and CTO, explains will go toward a project focused on vacuum insulating glass (VIG) units for use in developing R-10 windows.

"The DOE is desperate for an R-10 window as part of its net zero energy goals for buildings," said Stark.

"We are working in collaboration with a major window manufacturer on this project; we're supply the VIG and they are producing the windows," Stark explained, adding that he was not at liberty to say the name of the window manufacturer with which they are working.

"We expect the project will take between one and two years once the contract is signed," Stark added.

The Performance Films division of St. Louis-based Solutia was awarded a $356,000 grant. The awarded funds have been earmarked for the continued research, development and commercialization of high-performance, energy-efficient retrofit window film technology for residential and commercial buildings. According to Solutia, this technology involves new film coatings and techniques designed to improve energy efficiency in every climate zone, specifically films with low-E properties.

Likewise, $1.2 million is going to Dow Corning to develop an insulating façade system that would help increase the energy efficiency of commercial buildings. The funding will assist the company in the development of a silicon-based, high-efficiency building insulation system that could be used in retro-fit and new construction applications. The insulation project is focused on achieving thermal resistance values of R-40 or greater for exterior insulation and finish systems. The project is expected to take about three years.

TRACO in Cranberry Township, Pa., received a $2.6 million grant for high volume production engineering of R-5 commercial grade windows. According to Denise Abraham, Traco's manager of marketing communications, this two-year project involves engineering the production of commercial grade R-5 windows, in a cost effective manner. The project has identified improvements in the manufacturing and assembly of glazing, sashes/vents, and frames since it represents a major portion of the overall cost to manufacture the window.

"The goal is to make highly energy efficient commercial windows more affordable for the buyer," she adds.

SAGE Electrochromics Inc. in Faribault, Minn., received an award of $1.63 million in the area for its project.

"SAGE's project is focused on making further improvements to the energy performance, and lowering the cost, of electronically tintable electrochromic glass for residential and commercial building applications," says Dr. Helen Sanders, vice president of technical business development. "This will involve product and process enhancements to enable more efficient, high-volume manufacturing." Sanders adds that the project will take about two years.

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