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With this new technology, thermal resistance will be increased and solar heat gain better controlled enabling windows to perform better than walls on a yearly basis in terms of their useful net energy balance

£1.6m grant to improve building façade technologies for better energy efficiency

A pioneering project to create new technologies to improve the energy efficiency of buildings has begun, after receiving a substantial grant.

A team of researchers, including Professor Tapas Mallick from the University of Exeter, has been awarded £1.65 million from the EPSRC for the innovative project.

The research will focus on developing low cost optical components, which can be integrated into conventional double glazing, to provide comfortable annual daylight levels in buildings and reduce their annual energy consumption from annual artificial lighting, heating and cooling by more than 30%.

Buildings currently account for more than 40% of total UK energy consumption and a similar percentage of the UK CO2 emissions.

With this new technology, thermal resistance will be increased and solar heat gain better controlled enabling windows to perform better than walls on a yearly basis in terms of their useful net energy balance.

The project is led by Dr Yupeng Wu from the Faculty of Engineering at Nottingham, and also includes experts from Loughborough University.

Professor Mallick, from the Exeter’s Renewable Energy department at the Penryn Campus said: “We are delighted to secure this highly competitive research award, which will help provide new pathways to transform how energy is generated and used. The technology we are developing here at the Penryn Campus will be a key component for creating Energy Positive homes in future, by developing innovative new solar-based technologies that can be incorporated in the windows and opening of buildings  to allow thermal load reduction, electricity generation and daylight management.”

Four types of advanced glazing are being developed with input from industry partners to ensure the solutions developed will be a viable option for commercial building designers.

The new products being developed would be suitable replacements for current transparent glazing systems, offering building energy reduction through enhanced thermal resistance and optimised daylight transmittance.

By recognising the range of functions played by different areas of the façade, it is possible to tailor strategies to match. For example, those areas where view is less important can use active coatings that vary the transmission and scattering of light to direct daylight deeper into rooms, or integrate solar technologies to generate electricity or capture useful heat.

Dr Wu explains: “We’re delighted to receive this grant, which we are using to adopt a holistic approach to developing advanced façade technologies to achieve building energy reduction goals.

“Glazed façades play an important role in determining a building’s energy performance and perform a range of, sometimes conflicting, functions. They regulate heat transfer to and from the external environment by radiation (solar and long wave), conduction and convection, allow natural daylight into the space and improve the way to buildings look externally. Improving fenestration energy performance can make a significant contribution to reducing building energy loads.

“Our target is for a typical commercial building incorporating these novel glazed façade systems to provide comfortable annual daylight levels while achieving over a 20% reduction in annual artificial lighting energy consumption, space heating reductions of over 30% in the heating season and cooling load reductions of 20% in summer. The integration in a façade system of active solar energy technologies with better performing windows paves the way for commercial buildings to become net energy producers on an annual basis.”

Date: 14 May 2019