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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Innovative Building Materials

Abstract

Windows have the unique capability of being able to achieve a net zero energy impact by admitting solar gains in the winter to offset thermal losses and admitting daylight to offset electric lighting. If rejection or admission of solar heat gains and daylight are appropriately timed, then heating, cooling and lighting energy use at the perimeter zone can be reduced to net zero energy levels. Nano-scale switchable coatings on glass have been developed to actively modulate solar intensity and spectral transmission. We provide a brief overview of these switchable glazing materials, discuss the desired performance objectives for such materials, and present results from recently completed monitored studies of state-of-the-art switchable windows, particularly with respect to occupant response and market factors. Careful application of state-of-the-art switchable windows and new material science developments on the horizon can deliver the desired net zero energy performance while meeting critical human factors and market related requirements.

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