Roadmap Session Features DOE Key Players at Forefront of Energy-Saving Technologies, Strategies
July 5, 2012

by Erica Terrini, eterrini@glass.com

Experts from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) associated research organizations discussed energy-saving tactics, such as emerging technologies for highly efficient building envelopes and windows, during a recent workshop. The session was held as part of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association's (WDMA) annual technical conference held recently in Minneapolis.

"The purpose of the meeting was to present the latest information on the program's goals, research agenda and current research activities, while receiving feedback from stakeholders on program needs and priorities," said Walt Zalis, market transformation lead for Energetics Inc., who introduced the workshop along with WDMA vice president, Jeff Inks.

Alexis Abramson, emerging technologies supervisor for the DOE's Building Technologies Program, was first to speak during the session. She explained that the program prioritizes research, development and marketing investments in new and existing technologies by estimating "potential energy savings and costs of conserved energy."

The program also deals with the building envelope and its energy consumption. According to Marc LaFrance, DOE technology development manager for the program, building envelopes have an impact on building energy consumption sectors such as ventilation, water heating and lighting. About 133 billion is spent per year on buildings' energy consumption, which is 13.9 percent of U.S. energy.

LaFrance said the program intends to "develop a cost-effective R-10 window and bring dynamic insulation with more than 20 percent peak load reduction" to markets.

He said for current technologies in windows (both commercial and residential), roofs, walls, infiltration and foundations have ready-now technologies available to save energy, but "enabling research can help" the market access more efficient products in the future-such as shifting from simple daylighting and window-to-wall ratio strategies in commercial buildings to utilizing dynamic windows and light redirection technologies.

"The U.S. had initiated unprecedented investment in envelope and window research. This will decline sharply and could end up with less than 25 percent labor buying power compared to 2002," LaFrance said. "New technology will be essential to achieve low carbon [and] low-energy buildings, and to develop more affordable solutions for the existing building stock."

Dan Gaspar, technical group manager for the Materials Chemistry and Surface Research Group in the Energy and Efficiency Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), discussed the organization's efforts in glazing technology development and deployment.

According to Gaspar, PNNL has recently been researching developing technologies for daylighting and vacuum insulated glass (VIG) products. With new advancements in window coatings for daylighting, he said light can be redirected to different points of a room, which increases the naturally lit area and eases reliance on electric lighting.

"The objective is to develop window coatings that allow double daylight penetration into buildings to save energy," Gaspar said. "The next steps are to demonstrate the proof of the concept and to optimize performance."

Gaspar said that VIG glazing research has consisted of "developing materials and techniques to produce low-cost, durable and highly insulating evacuated glazing."

He said there have been challenges in regard to transparency, standoffs, edge seals, assembly, evacuation and longevity of the glazing products but thus far PNNL researchers have produced VIG prototypes.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) research scientist Robert Tenent provided an update on the organization's own research program, which he said consists of experts specializing in building technologies, chemical and materials science, technology transfer and strategic energy analysis.

He said there are four sectors supporting product development, which include "[energy efficient building] modeling, development of improved materials, low-cost manufacturing process development, and advanced fenestration testing."
Additionally, Tenent said NREL is focusing on electrochromic dynamic glazing with a particular focus on fast switching speeds; enhancements in color; and advances in film durability and thickness.

Stephen Selkowitz, group leader for the Windows and Envelope Materials Group of the Building Technologies Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL), discussed the organization's current activities in regards to glazing technologies.

"[LBNL's] multi-year goals are to develop energy-efficient dynamic windows of the future in collaboration with industry partners, improve performance and cost effectiveness of the most advanced concepts of dynamic windows, and to provide market-viable solutions for advanced materials, and coatings and device fabrication processes," Selkowitz said.

The four big areas in terms of steps to take include highly insulating systems, dynamic glazing for solar control, daylighting and air flow. Advanced glazing systems even could become net energy producers, he said.

"If you use the right windows, you get happy people and more efficient buildings," Selkowitz said. "If you step back and look at how things move, we tend to overestimate the speed at which we move but underestimate the impact we've made."

This story is an original story by USGlass magazine/USGNN™. Subscribe to USGlass magazine.
Subscribe to receive the free e-newsletter.