Smart Windows, Advanced Insulation Show Strong Growth Prospects

A new report identifies dynamic smart windows and advanced insulation as some of the high growth segments of the green building industry.

Although they have a negligible market today, Lux Research projects they’ll grow to a $829 million market by 2020.

Dynamic windows – which can switch from a clear to a darkened state to provide shading from the sun – are expected to grow to a $418 million market by 2020.

Emerging insulation technologies like aerogels and phase-change materials will find small but profitable niches, growing to $230 million and $130 million, respectively. Vacuum insulation panels will struggle with usability and high costs, and reach just $50 million by 2020.

"Dynamic windows and advanced insulation have reached a level of maturity and scale that make them inviting alternatives, even for the normally conservative and price-conscious construction industry," says Murray McCutcheon, a Lux analyst and lead author of the report. "Dynamic windows, for instance, will gain footing now through public-sector installations; this initial prove-out will create the volume to drive costs down further and fuel adoption by the commercial sector past 2016."

Europe will likely be fertile ground for these technologies because it emphasizes the thermal envelope in its building efficiency standards. 

Europe already holds a 57% market share for dynamic window thanks to higher energy prices and strict energy-efficiency regulations.

Lux analysts say growth will accelerate worldwide as dynamic windows reach scale and costs drop – a process that is already underway. Costs are dropping for smart windows at about 5% a year – if they dropped twice as fast, the market would grow to over $1.4 billion.

Michigan-based Pleotint recently started commercial production on thermochromic windows – which darken in response to the heat of direct sunlight – in a two million square feet plant. 

Sage and Soladigm are nearing completion of $100 million  manufacturing plants slated to come online in 2012. They make  electrochromic windows which tint in response to an electric current that can be controlled through smart building management systems.

In November 2010, Sage announced a partnership with Saint-Gobain, one of the world’s largest glass and construction material manufacturers.

Lux Research is offering a complimentary webinar on the topic, scheduled for August 16 at 11:00 a.m. EDT or August 17 at 3:00 p.m. CEST.

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