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  • The Future of Windows

    By Mark Meshulam

    Mark Meshulam is an expert witness and consultant for windows, glass and building facades.

    Recently, Traco hosted a dealer seminar to introduce not only their NX window series, but also to educate dealers about the future of windows. Janice Weber, our President and myself attended that great conference. Today’s article will focus on Traco’s presentation of the future of windows.

    Mike Manteghi, Traco Director of Research and Development points out fetaures of a Smart Window

    Mike Manteghi, Traco Director of Research and Development points out fetaures of a Smart Window

    Mike Manteghi, Traco’s Director of Research and Development seemed to be the man in charge of futurism, and I believe he earned his role. Mike writes, and regularly receives on behalf of Traco, research grants from the US Department of Energy for his pioneering work stretching the boundaries of aluminum windows.

    And so here, without further ado, is the future of windows…

    Electrochromic glass is an electronically tintable glass that can be switched from clear to dark with the push of a button

    Electrochromic glass is an electronically tintable glass that can be switched from clear to dark with the push of a button

    Electrochromic Glass
    With the push of a button, or a signal from an electronic controller, this glass darkens and lightens all by itself. If you have been reading some of our previous articles, you will immediately grasp the value of this: you can control solar heat gain based on need! In winter, you might allow much the sun’s energy to enter the windows and warm your living space with a SHGC of .48. In the summer, you can darken the glass, as if you are putting sunglasses on the building, and obtain a SHGC of .07!

    Visible light follows along, with a range of 65% TO 5%, thus glare is controlled along with heat.

    Ramifications of this concept go even further. By limiting peaks and valleys of SHGC, peak energy demand is reduced by 10-25%, and energy bills are reduced in the same range. When designing a new building with this feature incorporated, cooling and heating systems can be downsized by 3-25%.

    Vacuum Glazing

    Vacuum glass can achieve R10, over three times better than typical insulating glass.

    Vacuum glass can achieve R10, over three times better than typical insulating glass.


    Veteran readers know that vanilla insulated glass performs at a paltry R 3, compared with a typical insulated wall of R 11. Vacuum glazing changes all of that.

    A typical insulated glass unit has a 1/2″ thickness of dry air between the two lites of glass. Vacuum glazing has a very small space between the glasss (less than 1mm), which is evacuated. It’s more entertaining, however, to say the space is filled with a vacuum. The lites are held apart by tiny unobtrusive pillars approx. every 3″ in each direction. At least one Low-E coating will be in the configuration.

    Aside from the great insulating values, this product saves on weight. Previously, to achieve a high R value, triple glazing or added insulation is needed. This concept obviates triple glazing and is perfectly clear.

    Currently a number of manufacturers are working hard to develop this promising technology for the market. So far limitations are glass size (max 1 meter x 1 meter), longevity and cost. Apparently it’s not so easy to stuff a lot of vacuum into that airspace!

    Click for more information about vacuum glazing.

    Smart Windows

    Smart windows use sensors to control the interior environment and save energy

    Smart windows use sensors to control the interior environment and save energy

    This is the type of window George Jetson would have had. It does everything except cook breakfast. Sensors feed the smart window’s computer with continuous data about interior and exterior temperature, humidity, light, CO2 and motion.

    The computer then tells the smart window to open or close, or open the blinds. This fully automated system makes the most of the power of controlling the windows, in order to take the load off of the conventional heating and cooling systems, while providing better natural ventilation. This system can reduce cooling costs by as much as 30% while improving occupant comfort.

    This system integrates easily with other system because it is “stand alone”. Smart windows control the interior environment so that it calls for heat and cooling less than it would have otherwise.

    The Mother of all Thermal Breaks

    Strut type thermal break provides greater strength, stability, thermal separation and also allows for two-color applications.

    Strut type thermal break provides greater strength, stability, thermal separation and also allows for two-color applications.


    Aluminum window aficionados know that thermal conductance through an aluminum frame is generally reduced with the use of a “poured-in-place polyurethane thermal break.” (Try saying that ten times fast!) Another way to skin that cat is the strut-type thermal break. Using this method, the front half and the interior half of the frame and sash are extruded separately, then stitched together onto a pair of strong, rigid struts. This technology originated in Europe. It is stronger, more stable and better insulation than poured-in place, and eliminates the potential for thermal break shrinkage.

    Because the frame halves are extruded separately, they allow for two-color windows. This is a great benefit when the trendy architect designs purple windows for the exterior, yet allows the occupant the design freedom of a neutral window interior.

    Mark Meshulam, Chicago Window Expert and Jim Dekoch, Traco Senior Project Manager check results of window testing in Traco's laboratory.

    Mark Meshulam, Chicago Window Expert and Jim Dekoch, Traco Senior Project Manager check results of window testing in Traco's laboratory.

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    7 Comments

7 Responses to “The Future of Windows”

  1. Are you a professional journalist? You write very well.

  2. Thanks but no, I am an unprofessional journalist.

  3. Wow its wonderful! Electrochromic glass is an electronically tintable glass that can be switched from clear to dark with the push of a button.

  4. The computer tells the smart window to open or close, the blinds. This fully automated system makes the most of the power of controlling the windows

  5. Would like to know more about application in differents climates or countries, is there any practice project? updated us thanks a lot.

  6. hellow sir , would you tell me , how the vaccum glazing made ?

  7. Anything can be done but it really is not prcaitacl to use double glazed glass for automotives. Some of the reasons include:1) A car windshield is made of two layers of glass bonded together with a thin layer of plastic so if it does break the plastic will hold the broken pieces of glass in place to minimize glass being thrown all over the occupants of the vehicle.2) Automotive windshields are curved with the curve facing outward to greatly improve the strength and to do this with double pains is exceptionally expensive.3) Because of the vibration and constant twisting a vehicle encounters during normal operation it would be virtually impossible to make a seal between the two windows that would last the life of the car and therefore moisture would get between the windows and obscure the occupants vision.4) If a double glazed windshield system is used, it still would have to use the two layers bonded together with the layer of plastic for both panes of glass due to federal safety regulations and the weight of the winshield system would make a significant weight difference in the vehicle.5) It already can be very expensive to replace a car windshield and a system like you mentioned would be so expensive to replace if it were broken it could easily cost more than the vehicle is worth to replace the windshield.6) The air conditioning systems in cars can be made more powerful to overcome added thermal gain of a single pain window without a significant difference in fuel economy the heating system uses heat from the engines cooling system to heat the interior of the vehicle so making the heating system more powerful makes absolutely no difference in fuel economy.7) The current windows in automotive applications are already so thick for safety reasons that they provide exceptional sound dampening and to use a double glazed system wouldn’t really help enough to justify the cost.I hope my answer was not too long and I hope this helps

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