A new product may soon emerge from the race to create better materials for green building. Sage Electrochromics, based in Faribault, Minnesota, recently raised $20 million from investors to continue its development of tinted windows, which automatically shift from light to dark as environmental conditions change.
The electrochromic windows and skylights sense the change in surrounding temperature, and respond accordingly to save energy. If it's warm, the windows darken to keep the building cool. When it's cool, the windows appear clear again. The technology aims to reduce the need for air conditioning, which is notoriously energy-inefficient and increasingly costly.
The windows are undeniably cool. But, as this article notes, the high-tech electrochromic windows may find it difficult to compete with other lower-tech, less expensive solutions already on the market:
Other companies, such as Denmark's PhotoSolar, make windows that block solar heat with a simple passive film inserted between two sheets of glass. The windows have a permanent, gray tint to them, but you can still see out of them. More importantly, they don't require any electronics or controls.
I'd be curious to see how the windows perform against some of the lowest-tech solutions out there, including passive cooling with good ventilation, well-situated windows and healthy trees.
Photo source: GreenTechMedia.com.
This is great! As an artist I have a personal project for which this would be most useful (click my name to see a model). Also, this kind of system would be excellent for a geodesic "skybreak" dome, a transparent type of shelter conceived by Buckminster Fuller. It would resolve problems of energy efficiency and indoor temperature that must be adequately addressed to successfully realize that type of shelter.
I hope to see more developments in this area. For instance, could the same properties be endued to windows of sturdy transparent plant-based plastics? That would be most useful for the type of structures I envisage, as glass for those purposes is prohibitively heavy, fragile, and expensive.
$20 million, huh. That's quite an achievement, especially during the current economic malaise.
I would have thought, therefore, that their web site would be trumpeting the news and not full of dud links and dated info.
Call me old fashioned but in a world led by tech savvy marketing a web site is usually the first port of call for interested parties.
hmmmm I like this post but I would love to see some on how to save on construction costs in this tough market