Strong Growth Predicted for Dynamic Glazing

August 3, 2011

With the advance of green buildings and a broader shift toward more energy efficient construction, a handful of emerging technologies–including dynamic smart windows and advanced insulation–will build from a negligible commercial market today into an $829 million market in 2020, according to a new report from Lux Research.

“Dynamic windows, for instance, will gain footing now through public-sector installations," says Murray McCutcheon, a Lux analyst and lead author of the report. "This initial prove-out will create the volume to drive costs down further and fuel adoption by the commercial sector past 2016.”

The report, titled Opening the Thermal Envelope: Emerging Innovation in Dynamic Windows and Advanced Insulation, forecasts that dynamic windows–which can switch from a clear to a darkened state to provide shading from the sun–will represent a $418 million market by 2020. Emerging insulation technologies like aerogels and phase-change materials will find small but profitable niches in the thermal envelope, with 2020 market sizes of $230 million and $130 million, respectively. Vacuum insulation panels will struggle with usability and high costs, and reach just $50 million in the building sector in 2020, according to the Boston-based research company.

Europe will outpaces the U.S. to provide the most fertile ground for demand, it is suggested. Emphasis on the thermal envelope is one part of a broader green building movement, spurred by government building construction and efficiency standards. High energy prices and strict energy-efficiency regulations continue to drive Europe as the market leader in dynamic windows, with a 57 percent market share.

Growth will accelerate as dynamic windows reach scale and costs drop. Scale is critical to reduce costs, and dynamic windows are seeing particular progress in this area, the study notes. Pleotint recently started commercial production in a 2-million-square-foot per annum capacity plant. Both Sage and Soladigm are nearing completion of hundred million dollar manufacturing facilities slated to come online in 2012, with Sage’s partner Saint-Gobain expected to drive the global reach for Sage windows. The most likely scenario will see dynamic window technologies undergo modest annual cost reductions of 5 percent for electrochromics and 2 percent for thermochromics, bringing prices down to open up new markets. If costs were to fall at twice that rate, this market would grow to more than $1.4 billion.

“Dynamic windows and advanced insulation have reached a level of maturity and scale that make them inviting alternatives, even for the normally conservative and price-conscious construction industry,” McCutcheon notes.

In addition to the report, Lux Research is offering a complimentary webinar, scheduled for August 16 or August 17.