Mind & Matter


Chameleon Windows

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Color-changing window: lithium-filled glass (left) and clear glass (right). Photo by NREL.


Architects are well aware of the age-old energy conundrum presented by windows. Despite the fact that building occupants benefit from the daylight and views provided by windows, these glassy apertures cannot compete with the thermal performance of most building envelope materials—at least not on a budget. Electrochromic glass has garnered attention for its ability to absorb heat from the sun during the winter and reflect it in the summer, but at significant cost. Recently, however, scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) unveiled a new, cost-effective version of electrochromic windows that employ spray-on films. These films not only make the windows cheaper, but also perform better. Now, the goal to make windows capable of changing with the weather may arrive sooner than we expected.


Comments (2 Total)

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 5:34 AM Saturday, November 27, 2010

    This is a really good read for me, must admit that you are one of the best blogger I ever saw. Thanks for posting this informative article.

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  • Posted by: skriner1@verizon.net | Time: 1:53 PM Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    Would these spray on films be applicable to some types of roofing - like metal roofing?

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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.