Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Industry News: Material Offers New Hope for Developing Smart Windows

According to a new report, Smart Windows are expected to play a big role in energy-efficient homes.

The idea is that they will allow light in while keeping the heat out. One material being considered for its potential to help create Smart Windows is known as Vanadium dioxide (VO2). This unique material has the ability to transition from a transparent semi-conductive state at low temperatures, allowing infrared radiation through, to an opaque metallic state at high temperatures, while still allowing visible light to get through.

The report says that to date, VO2 hasn't been considered to be particularly suited for large-scale practical smart-window applications due to its low luminous transmittance and solar modulating ability. Strategies to improve these properties, for instance through doping or composites, have resulted in trade-offs between the luminous transmittance and thermo-chromic properties.

The report goes on to say that researchers in China, however, have now developed a process that can prepare VO2 thin-films with a controllable polymorph and morphology (including grain size and porosity). Their results show that with increased porosity and decreased optical constants the performance of the VO2 films is enhanced, leading to a higher transmittance of visible light and improved solar modulating ability.

It is expected that VO2 thermo-chromic films will find special applications as a new generation of smart glass that can change infrared transmittance by responding to environmental temperature, while at the same time maintaining visible transparency.

This could result in a smart window that might be useful for locations with hot summers and cold winters.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

City of Midland to Require Energy Efficient Windows for Renovations

Starting in January 2012, residents of Midland, Texas will need to adhere to additional requirements when renovating their homes.

The City Council has passed an update to the energy code that requires new home additions or alterations to meet added energy requirements for insulation, windows and exterior doors.

Last year, Texas adopted the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). All new commercial construction had to be in compliance with the code as of April 1. Residential construction will have to be in compliance after Jan. 1, according to the state law.

Currently, residential additions and alterations are exempt from meeting the new energy standards. The changes mean homeowners will be required to use energy-efficient windows, and exterior doors will have to meet energy-efficient standards.

People replacing single windows will not be required to meet the new code.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Industry News: Green Retrofits Surpass New Green Construction

A report published this week, says the green retrofitting of commercial buildings is outpacing the construction of new green buildings.

According to McGraw Hill Construction’s Green Outlook 2011, this trend could mean that more building owners believe that achieving LEED certification may be cost efficient and environmentally conscious. The trend may have also been prompted by fewer new green building projects being scheduled for construction.

The report also says that by 2015 the green share of the largest commercial retrofit and renovation activity will more than triple, representing a $14 billion to $18 billion opportunity in major construction projects alone.

What might this mean for the fenestration industry?


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Changes to Canadian Codes Seek Greener Building

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, says he is working with the provinces and territories to support the adoption of the 2011 National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings.

The Code recently underwent 245 technical changes in an effort to accommodate new technologies and construction practices that have emerged in Canada over the past 15 years.

One aspect of the Code is its overall performance improvement compared with the 1997 Model National Energy Code for Buildings. The goal was to improve the energy efficiency of the Code’s technical requirements by 25 percent from the previous version published in 1997.