Environmentally Friendly Windows: It’s Fun Living in the Future

Every day it seems like manufacturers and inventors are figuring out how to make more things “smart." It started with our phones. Now all sorts of things from our coffee cups to major kitchen appliances are considered a step short of sentient.
From: Alex Summers
August 2nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Every day it seems like manufacturers and inventors are figuring out how to make more things “smart.” It started with our phones. Now all sorts of things from our coffee cups to major kitchen appliances are considered a step short of sentient. It was only a matter of time before windows caught up.

That’s not a Microsoft slam. We’re talking about actual windows, the kind that you install in your houses and office buildings–windows that will soon be made with Smart Glass.

Yes, seriously.

Smart Glass

Smart glass has been making headlines recently because it effectively turns our windows—no matter how large—into transitional lenses for our homes and offices. Smart glass, according to the manufacturer, is made of a “special thermo chromic PVB Interlayer (tri-layer)” that gets inserted between layers of glass and insulated glass units.

Smart glass is self-tinting and will gradually darken when the glass is exposed to direct sunlight (the sunlight raises the glass temperature, which triggers the transition). The tint gets stronger as the sunlight strengthens and wanes as the sunlight fades and auto balances itself according to the amount of heat entering and exiting a building.

The manufacturer of Smart Glass boasts that, in addition to environmental benefits and the reduction of heating and cooling costs, smart glass makes buildings safer.

Of course, not everybody can afford to buy all new windows—and smart windows at that!—for their homes. For those who have to stick to stricter budgets, don’t worry. Glass isn’t the only part of the windows that are getting smarter and more environmentally friendly.

Smart Blinds

Okay, so far, we have yet to find a manufacturer who has managed to create “smart” blinds. There are, though, blinds that have been created specifically to lower the environmental impact of the homes and offices in which they are installed. Energy saving honeycomb shades, for example, have honeycomb shaped “cells” in them that improve the energy efficiency of a home by preventing air transfer between a home or office and the external environment. This means that, in addition to keeping hot air out during the summer, these shades actively work to keep your indoor air from leeching out.

There are multiple benefits to a cellular approach to air leeching.  The temperature regulation aspect is just one of them. Another important benefit is that these “smart” shades give you greater control over the air quality of your home and work space. We reported recently about air quality reducing employees’ productivity. Installing smart shades can keep that from happening.

Wireless Temperature Control

Anything that uses Bluetooth is automatically smart. Using wireless programmable thermostat will allow you to maintain temperature control over your environment even when you aren’t there. Programmable thermostats, admittedly, aren’t anything new. The wireless aspect, though, makes it possible for you to access your temperature controls from anywhere with internet access. In other words, if you go on vacation and remember that you left the air conditioner on; you just open the thermostat’s app on your phone and turn it off.

It is going to be a while before smart technology completely takes over the environmental sector. In the meantime, here are a couple of green things you can do to improve the air quality and livability of your home and offices during the extreme parts of the summer (and winter for that matter):

Get Some Plants: plants scrub the air better than most industrial air filters and are decorative at the same time. Plant some trees outside to keep the roof of your home and business protected against sun damage (and the low solar temperature gain that comes from direct sun exposure)

Switch to LED bulbs. LED bulbs use a fraction of the energy that incandescent and CFL bulbs require and have the tiniest of heat signatures, which will further reduce your need for artificial temperature control.