With American households and buildings consuming up to 40 percent of total energy, the race to develop more efficient windows is accelerating. Companies like Sage Electrochromics (acquired by Saint-Gobain last year) and View offer smart windows that can actively reduce solar heat gain by filtering visible light dynamically.
Scientists at a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory incubator company called Heliotrope Technologies recently announced what they consider to be "a material breakthrough." Like its competitor's products, the Heliotrope glass can be reversibly-tinted. However, it offers the additional advantage of infrared radiation obstruction while also being transparent, offering additional energy savings without dimming the view.
The new electrochromic technology offers three settings: full transparency, transparency while blocking the infrared spectrum, and blocking both the visible and infrared spectrum. The new composite also promises to be relatively cost-effective. Heliotrope is currently sending samples to glass manufacturers, and plans to begin producing the product in the next three years.
Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a regularly featured columnist whose stories appear on this website each week. His views and conclusions are not necessarily those of ARCHITECT magazine nor of the American Institute of Architects.