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Solar & Alternative Energy

Low-emissivity glass: technology from the last energy crisis can help solve this one

National Public Radio featured "one of the biggest success stories to come out of the last energy crisis" on October 15 --  low-emissivity window coatings. These invisible films are the reason that architects in American cities are gleefully building transparent glass towers.

Research from the 1970s, designed to make windows more energy-efficient. offers many lessons to be learned, as America once again ramps up its energy research.

Steve Selkowitz and other physicists at Lawrence Berkeley Lab determined that a huge amount of America's energy was literally going out the window. So while the Department of Energy was passing out billions of dollars for researchers to produce more fossil fuels, Selkowitz landed a very modest grant, a few million dollars, to develop more efficient windows.

Glass with low-emissivity coatings prevents a house from overheating in the summer and it holds in heat during the winter. Simple, amazing, but nobody was using it in anything bigger than an airplane cockpit window. Selkowitz realized that the challenge for low-emissivity, or "low-e," glass wasn't inventing it, but breaking down the barriers that kept it from the marketplace.

Full story from National Public Radio