Increased Energy Efficiency Of Skyscrapers

Solar Windows Can Increase Energy Efficiency Of Skyscrapers

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Experts at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that although skyscrapers dominate cityscapes, even massive glass buildings may benefit from the installation of photovoltaic (PV) windows due to the thermal efficiency they provide.

Guidelines for building design are presented in their study, which was published in the journal One Earth, that may lead to a structure with zero or positive energy use.

Increased Energy Efficiency Of Skyscrapers

"There are preconceived conceptions of what an energy-efficient building looks like, and it normally isn't heavily glazed, and it probably isn't very tall," said Lance Wheeler, a scientist at NREL who specializes in integrating PV technology into windows. It turns out there are alternative methods to construct energy-efficient structures, as we've discovered.

Wheeler and his twin brother Vincent, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin–Stout, published "Photovoltaic windows cut energy usage and CO2 emissions by 40% in heavily glazed buildings" in the journal Building and Environment. The research may be performed thanks to the brother's development of a software called PVwindow, which allows users to simulate building designs using PV window models.

Janghyun Kim, Tom Daligault, Bryan Rosales, Chaiwat Engtrakul, and Robert Tenent are also contributing writers from NREL.

Structures account for more than a third of global energy use and almost as much carbon dioxide as transportation. Experts agree, however, that when PV is combined with high thermal efficiency window technology, new buildings become a critical weapon in the fight against climate change.In New York City's Equitable Building, for instance, the percentage of window area to total wall area is 25%. The Bank of America Tower, which debuted in 2016 after being constructed 101 years later, has a ratio of 71%.

Increased Energy Efficiency Of Skyscrapers

The researchers concentrated their attention on "highly glazed" structures, defined as having a window-to-wall ratio of 95% or more, to illustrate the impact glazing has on a building's energy efficiency. While innovations in glazing technology like triple-pane windows have helped improve buildings' energy efficiency, they are not yet commonly employed.

I don't want to be the one to sit here and advocate for heavily glazed structures, as Lance Wheeler put it. To that end, we must construct energy-saving structures. PV windows are one approach to making up for the inferior performance of these buildings if they are to be continued in production.

Researchers simulated the results of using three distinct PV glazing technologies, including a switchable PV technology created by NREL. Several different glazing methods were utilized on the same building in eight different locales with wildly different climates. In addition to PVwindow, the researchers also employed EnergyPlus and OpenStudio.

Large amounts of energy are used to cool the building's inhabitants in highly glazed constructions because of the abundance of windows and natural light. PV windows generate electricity from the sun's rays while also insulating a structure from its cold. They discovered a distinct pattern in PV production in areas with extreme yearly temperature swings.The simulations revealed that a 12-story skyscraper in Denver with plenty of windows might cut its daily average power use in half if it installed PV. In addition, they discovered that Denver's PV windows might reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 2 million pounds.

Reduced energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions were shown in the simulations throughout all eight climatic zones, with each of the three PV glazing types showing incremental improvements in performance.

Energy consumption was shown to be higher in buildings with more windows than wall space. Energy usage, however, drops when the ratio is increased and PV glazing is installed. The energy needs of a building may be reduced by using PV glass and having taller floors. If the PV glass is paired with photovoltaic panels on the building's façade, particularly those facing east and west to collect the sun in the morning and afternoon, this skyscraper may reach net zero energy use.

"Envision a skyline in, say, New York City, where there are these high-rise skyscrapers that are all glass," Wheeler added. They've had all of the panes glazed. Millions of square feet of glass cover the Freedom Tower. That thing by itself could as well be a power plant.

Using high-efficiency PV windows and unique building geometry, researchers found that PV glass might be utilized in combination with rooftop solar to increase energy production. The adjustment might help achieve climate change targets without limiting the design flexibility of the buildings' highly glassed facades.


These solar windows mimic the appearance of standard glass panes while functioning as solar panels to produce power. At Michigan State University, researchers developed the first commercially available transparent solar panels. Somewhere between 5.7 and 10.9 billion square feet of glass may be found in the United States alone. Indoor air pollution is decreased in energy-efficient structures due to cleaner combustion and enhanced ventilation. Because they use less energy to operate, they help reduce emissions from power plants by using less fossil fuels, which is positive for the environment.

Increased Energy Efficiency Of Skyscrapers


What is the efficiency rate of solar windows?

7 percent of the sun's energy is turned into usable power because of this window's efficiency.

How much energy do solar windows produce?

Depending on the amount of sunlight that enters the cells of a solar window, it may generate between eight and ten watts of power per day. Using this method, you may charge a mobile phone twice a day or one per meter.

What is the significance of a solar window?

Over time, sunlight's ultraviolet rays may fade and otherwise ruin furniture. Solar windows reduce the amount of UV light entering your home, protecting your furnishings from fading. Solar windows are tinted so that fewer outsiders may see inside the house.

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