More Sustainable Buildings with Self-Adaptive Glass Windows

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1Q 2022 | IN-6409

A newly developed window coating saves on money and energy by adapting to temperatures.

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Energy Saving Glass Coating


Recently, a group of international researchers led by scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore developed a glass window coating that can effectively self-adapt to heat or cool rooms in different climate zones around the world, helping to lower overall energy consumption. This first of its kind glass coating, capable of regulating heating and cooling at same time, is developed by forming a unique structure that consists of layers of vanadium dioxide nanoparticles composite, Poly (methyl methacrylate; PMMA), and low-emissivity coating. Without any electrical components, the glass functions by exploiting the spectrums of light responsible for heating and cooling.

The team of researchers found that the newly developed glass was able to achieve energy savings of up to 9.5% in both warm and cool seasons as compared to commercially available low emissivity glass. Currently, the modulations of radiative cooling have not been studied in conventional smart windows. As such, this development highlights the potential for implementation in sustainable buildings globally.

New Approach to Erecting Buildings


Traditionally, window-related sustainable innovations for buildings involve easing energy demand through the use of low emissivity coatings that prevent heat transfer and electrochromic glass that regulates solar radiation entering the building. The new first-of-its-kind invention enables the glass to automatically respond to the surrounding temperate changes by shifting between heating and cooling. Having been tested in seven different climate zones of the globe, the researchers have shown the flexibility and agility of their glass in its ability to cut energy usage regardless of temperature fluctuations as compared to currently available glass solutions. Furthermore, the degree of heating and cooling can be customized based on the needs of the market and region, and can be extended to other smart window applications.

As cities around the world continue to urbanize, buildings and skyscrapers are being erected at a rapid pace. With windows being a core component to a building’s design, the choice of glass is crucial to the overall energy efficiency. According to the Department of Energy in the United States, the window-associated energy consumption from heating and cooling in buildings accounts for an estimated 4% of their total primary energy usage per year. Therefore, widespread implementation of this new self-adapting glass could bring about tremendous financial and environmental benefits to buildings and cities globally.

Widespread Adoption and Implementation is Key


According to ABI Research’s Smart City Market Data, the number of cities with more than 300,000 inhabitants globally is set to increase to 2,363 by the year 2035 from 1,934 in 2020. This increase highlights the potential proportional increase in the number of buildings being built and the corresponding growth in energy usage. It is therefore important for sustainable innovations like the self-adaptive glass coating to be more widely adopted and implemented as part of the buildings’ components to ensure greater energy efficiency regardless of seasonal temperatures. However, this new glass coating will still require some time to further develop and reach large scale manufacturing before being successfully rolled out. Greater influx of investment, coupled with government-led initiatives, will ultimately help boost the progress and development of these innovations, allowing growing cities around the world to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly.