Energy use is not just a local or national problem but a global one. Commercial building owners struggle to find strategies to cut building energy costs, improve occupant productivity, and improve innovative cutting edge technologies - now we have found a way to complement all three necessities. For over a year, the Integrated Design Research Lab in the Architecture Department (IDRL) here at UNC Charlotte has been creating and reimagining an innovative window system that controls solar gain and maximizes daylight penetration to reduce a building’s total energy consumption while generating on-site electricity. Unlike traditional double-pane windows, this photovoltaic system will be able to produce clean energy providing environmental impact, conserve energy for economic impact, and provide user satisfaction for social impact.
The research directed by Kyoung-Hee Kim and research assistants at the IDRL have constructed prototypes with continuing research, provided a market value with the NSF I-Corps Team Program, and is now working on continuing to evaluate performance assessments as well as collaborating with professionals in the field to find potential early adopters. What we have found is that smaller companies are not willing to risk trying new cutting-edge technologies, but bigger companies will invest if there is a reasonable return on investment in three to five years. This research has helped us define what problems companies are facing and how we can develop our work to accomplish a broader societal impact.