DOE Foresees Continued Progress on Windows Despite Funding Cuts

By Katy Devlin, Glass Magazine
July 10, 2012

Bloomington, Minn.–The U.S. Department of Energy will spend significantly less on window technology research, officials reported at a Window Technology Roadmap Workshop held following the Window and Door Manufacturers Association Technical Conference, during the last week in June. The session, which featured updates on DOE Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy office activities related to windows and glass, was highlighted by a number of presentations on dynamic glazing and highly insulating window products.  

“We’re expecting a 50 percent to 80 percent reduction in funding for fiscal year 2013,” reported Marc LaFrance, DOE technology development manager, in a program overview. “There is less interest in the envelope and windows these days. … We will do the best we can and manage through.”

Looking forward, DOE will be focusing on retrofit and replacement of the current window stock, he also stated. "How do we replace those windows? How do we make it more cost effective?" LaFrance said.  “We see it transitioning," he also reported, speaking about DOE’s R-5 Windows Volume Purchase Program.  Options being considered include the start of a Most Efficient program within the Energy Star program, or potentially developing an R-7 to R-10 program.

“We think the future is dynamic windows,” LaFrance also stated, and the roadmapping session included updates on a number of efforts in that arena. Presentations were offered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, as well as Sage Electrochromics, Soladigm, Applied Materials and Pleotint.  "We are on the way to developing a new multi-billion dollar technology industry," said Sage's Neil Sbar.

Stephen Selkowitz of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provided an update on LBNL’s activities in window research and development. One effort involves finding ways to get krypton more easily and cheaply for insulating gas filling. Others include measuring hardware thermal performance and looking at window attachments such as honeycomb shades that scatter light.

LBNL is also looking at a QR code tool that could make its way to homeowners, Seilkowitz reported. A customer would "use the tool at Home Depot to compare windows, or use it in their home to see how specific windows might perform,” he explained.

The roadmapping session also featured five presentations from industry companies examining highly insulating window technologies.  Kawneer/Traco's Sneh Kumar discussed the manufacturer's OptiQ series of R-5 windows. DOE’s LaFrance delivered a presentation about GED Integrated Solutions’ Atlas IG line for the production of triple-lite units, introduced at GlassBuild last fall. Officials from Southwall Technologies discussed the company’s push to develop a a cost-effective R-10 window with multi-cavities and low-E coatings. David Stark of Eversealed Windows presented the company’s vacuum IG technology, which he said is “moving toward commercialization” with assistance from the DOE and industry companies, including Cardinal Glass Industries, Pella and Allmetal. And Tom Culp, representing Quanta, discussed the "tremendous energy savings" possible with low-E retrofits over existing single glazing via low-E storm windows or low-E IG retrofits.

“It is crucial for the DOE to have stakeholder involvement,” Alexis Abramson, acting supervisor, emerging technologies, for the DOE, told attendees at the session. She provided an additional update on the agency’s activities in building technologies beyond windows and glass. “We believe that 50 percent energy savings by 2030 is reachable,” she said, discussing the emerging technologies that are under development.

Additional presentations included an overview of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory activities; two window film presentations; and two ratings and knowledge base presentations, including an update on the National Fenestration Rating Council activities. All presentations are available on the DOE EERE blog site.