‘Smart windows’ – a solution to high energy costs

Researchers in Queensland are developing a new and affordable technology that opens the way for Australians to lower energy costs and live more sustainably … 


What’s not to love about windows?

They adorn nearly every building in Australia – filling rooms with fresh air and natural light, while providing a glimpse of the outside world.

Soon there could be another reason to appreciate the humble window.

A researcher from Queensland’s Griffith University may have discovered a way to make windows more sustainable and lower energy bills.

Smart windows.

Professor Huijun Zhao will lead a $1 million research project to develop an affordable, energy-saving ‘smart window’ that could revolutionise the industry by enabling the widespread adoption of this sustainable technology. The Australian government is contributing $513 210 through the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects scheme.

Professor Zhao’s team will create a glass that can change colour and adjust the amount of light or heat it transmits, by developing the low-cost and scalable synthesis of functional nanomaterials that make smart windows effective.

Smart windows work by acting as blinds in the summer and letting all sunlight seep in during the winter. The windows can reflect invisible infrared light, but let visible light in – cutting energy consumption for the cooling and heating of buildings by 12%.

As it stands, conventional windows are responsible for a huge amount of energy wastage, since they promote energy exchange at far greater rates than insulated walls.

“Besides residential buildings, this is particularly important for office buildings, hotels, and schools where the energy consumption for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) and lighting are more than 70 per cent of the total energy consumption,” lead researcher Professor Huijin Zhao said.

“The ease of energy exchange through conventional windows can be almost ten times that of insulated walls and this energy wastage can account for more than 50 per cent of the energy consumed for HVAC, especially during the summer and winter.”

Researchers will also investigate how this new technology can be integrated into Australia’s current glass manufacturing process, to enable commercialisation of the product. This will enable more people to get their hands on energy-saving and affordable solutions that are kind to the environment.

No doubt this will shape the way builders and construction companies source and implement materials such as glass in the future.

09/05/2017 blog Todd Mason