Volume 50, Issue 5 - May 2015


Pixel This: New Energy-Efficient Window Technology Shows Potential

A company in Eatontown, N.J., is pioneering a dynamic window technology that promises a high level of energy efficiency at a relatively low cost.

Elliott Schlam, the principal of New Visual Media Group, says his firm has come up with a new take on the traditional window shade—a super-thin sheet of polymer film that’s installed inside insulating glazing units (IGUs).

“All of the dynamic window technologies are basically chemically oriented,” Schlam says. “Ours is an actual physical shade that’s coated with ink. The ink can block infrared light, so it’s very, very energy efficient. It’s available in any color and it offers full privacy, so it has a nice combination of features.”

The shade runs on static electricity, Schlam says, so there’s no motor. When voltage is applied, electrostatic forces cause the shade to roll down. When voltage is removed, it automatically rolls back up.

Schlam, who’s a fellow with the Society for Information Display, says the technology behind the shade was initially developed for large outdoor set-ups such as billboards.

The New Visual Media Group’s ElectroPolymeric Display technology at work: on top is a window with the “shade” up, and on the bottom is the same window with the “shade” down.

“We came up with a technique to use this very, very thin polymer to make little pixels,” he says. “If you heat-process them, they’ll roll up. Then I became aware that people are making windows bigger and bigger, and they’re covering more of the building. Of course, that has a negative impact on energy. So we said, ‘can we apply this display technology to windows? Instead of thousands of little pixels, can we make really large pixels, window-size pixels?’ We went through this challenge and advanced the technology until we could
do that.”

Schlam says affordability is the product’s biggest selling point.

“It’s very, very inexpensive,” he says. “We’re talking like $5 per square foot.”

The products are also energy efficient. According to the company, they have a solar heat gain coefficient of <0.08 and meet ASTM standards E2188, E2189 and E2190.

Schlam says New Visual Media Group has been in business for about six years. “We’ve sort of been a stealth company,” he says. “Not many people know about us.”

That could be changing soon.

“We’ve gotten considerable interest,” Schlam says. “We’ve shown it to a number of window and glass companies, and also the automotive market and the aircraft market. We’ve gotten extremely strong interest.”

GSA Assesses Retrofit Technology for Energy Savings

Heat gain through windows accounts for 28 percent of cooling energy demand in U.S. commercial buildings, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). The federal government is continuing to focus on reducing that energy consumption. In at least one study, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) pinpointed a potential solution regarding fenestration.

The GSA’s Green Proving Ground (GPG) recently commissioned LBNL to assess the performance of applied solar-control retrofit films. The assessment started out at the Goodfellow Federal Center in St. Louis, Mo., where liquid-applied absorbing film was installed on 25 double-pane bronze windows in five different zones of the building. LBNL conducted energy assessment modeling over an eight-month period at that site, though it also went on to do energy assessment modeling with both absorbing and reflective spectrally-selective films in a range of warmer climates.

According to the study, the reflective technology was more efficient, providing up to 29 percent in HVAC energy savings in warmer climates. However, the cost-effectiveness depended on the glass.

“They are particularly effective in buildings with single-pane clear windows in warm climates with mild winters,” the study shows. “Solar-control retrofit films were not found to be cost-effective for double-pane bronze windows in most climates. Modeling results, which are useful for comparing trends across different climates and building configurations, show that spectrally-selective, reflective films outperform all other solar-control strategies.”
The study found that spectrally-selective reflective films outperform other solar-control strategies.

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