I attended a meeting earlier this week, nothing unusual about that but it was at this hotel where the whole of the front wall of the lobby area was glass. It didn’t take me long to realise why the only available chairs and tables were those right in front of this wall. It was on one of this year’s very rare sunny days and I’d sat there barely five minutes when I started to melt from the heat of the sun beaming in.
It got me thinking: wouldn’t it be great if we could do something about this wasted energy to reduce electricity consumption?
I didn’t have long to wait before I chanced upon a story on Energy Live News about Smart Glass or Electrochromic glazing (to give it its proper name), which changes light transmission properties when a small voltage is applied. It can darken and lighten in accordance with how much sun is shining outside – much like lenses in wearable glasses that become tinted when it’s sunnier.
As my example above highlights, what usually happens now with conventional glazing on sunny days is that air-conditioning use increases to assist comfort and/or blinds or window coverings are deployed and lights switched on. Both of these scenarios result in unnecessary increased energy use.
Scientists at De Montfort University in Leicestershire are currently testing Electrochromic glazing technology (which is also referred to as Intelligent Glass) in two office buildings on campus to find out if it does indeed change workers’ reliance on air-conditioning and lighting over time. They believe the new glass could save the offices, schools and hospitals of the future a fifth of their energy bills.
Unlike blinds and window coverings, Smart Glass allows occupants to maintain a view of the outside world, which is also known to be good for moral and mental health in the workplace.
Smart Glass has its drawbacks, however. The technology is in its infancy. It is more expensive than conventional glass, comes in quite small panel sizes and offers only one tint colour. Never the less, the market for it is expected to grow eight-fold by 2020 and a whole Smart Glass industry is already being founded. New products offering a range of colour tints, larger panel sizes and lower cost are already in production in the USA.
It’ll still be a costly and disruptive business to retrofit and replace every office or premises window with Smart Glass in the future. In the meantime, it’s good to know you can rely on energy efficient UPS to protect electricity supply while cutting energy consumption and cost. Check out these really great energy efficient UPS products: