Decades ago, scientists were already raising the alarm about environmental abuse, global warming, the need for sustainability and the lack of alternative sources of energy. Yet, for the most part, these warnings went unheeded. Only a small handful of forward-thinking visionaries dedicated themselves to stemming the growing tide of environmental wastefulness.
It’s been a long, hard road towards awareness and behavior that is more responsible. As an expert in the home improvement industry, I’ve watched technology adapt to the changes that consumers now want in the products they buy.
The Here and Now
I’ve seen the demand for energy-efficient windows grow by leaps and bounds over the past few decades. Once, people would have dismissed the idea of “investing” in window technology. Today, people are beginning to measure the value of products in terms of their environmental impact – and we now see more people willing to invest in the future.
Today’s windows have much more advanced technology than the windows we used to produce only a decade or so ago. Today, homeowners can make their selection from a wide array of energy-efficient options. These are superior windows with Low-E coatings, spaces filled with argon and krypton gases, and triple-pane designs.
“Smart windows” are now also commercially available. These windows have switchable glazing that changes in response to electric currents or environmental signals, such as different levels of light. At this time, however, many of these products are still under further development.
The Wave of the Future
Still, development doesn’t stop there. Research into more energy-efficient yet aesthetically pleasing products continues. The next great amazing thing to watch out for is solar glass. The technology brings solar panel technology a significant step further by transforming seemingly plain old glass into solar power generators capable of converting sunlight into electricity!
Research funds are being poured into research projects that will allow this photovoltaic glass to do its magic. “The technology works by adding a layer of transparent solid-state solar cells at most three microns thick to conventional glass, in order to turn around 12% of the solar energy received into low-carbon electricity. The power can then be exported to the national grid or used for the running of a building,” says Kevin Arthur, CEO of Oxford Photovoltaics, which is spearheading one of many such projects. Similar projects are underway in the U.S. and other countries.
The technology is expected to add 10% to the cost of a typical building facade made of glass, a steal considering that the building can then be expected to produce a significant amount of zero-pollution power. The technology will also greatly reduce carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, creating a huge positive impact on our environment. Buildings today account for as much as 39% of all emissions in the U.S., according to the U.S. Green Building Council.
Author Bio: Steve Watson is a top-grossing Project Contractor at the Westchester branch of Renewal by Andersen. He has over 30 years of field experience and has watched many of the developments that have taken place in the window industry over the decades.