Can glass help limit climate change?

On the 8th of October the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its Special Report on Global Warming. According to the report limiting global warming would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Ever since the publication of the report earlier this week the discussion has been active laying out different paths to solve climate change topics debating which sectors should contribute the most. The answer is quite clear: all sectors must contribute. However, some sectors consume more energy and omit more CO2 than others.

Did you know that the building and construction sectors combined account for 36% of global final energy consumption and nearly 40% of total direct and indirect energy-related CO2 emission? That is more than any other sector. Driven by urbanization and industrialization, improved access to energy for heating, cooling and lighting especially in developing countries, energy demand from buildings and buildings construction still continues to rise.

Glass windows – part of the problem but also a solution

Glass windows are estimated to be responsible for almost 25 per cent of heating needs in the EU and for almost 10 per cent of cooling needs. Upfront it looks like glass is a big part of the problem, and when looking at the numbers one would probably claim it is today. However, given new intelligent glass technologies currently being developed, glass has much higher potential as a solution to the energy efficiency and global warming problems we face today.

Emerging glass technologies and value-adding glass products, such as smart glass, are making a strong entry into the market. Smart glass has the ability to control the amount of heat and light passing through the window and thereby significantly reduce energy consumption. However, the issue is not just about how windows keep the heat inside or outside. Smart glass can convert sunshine into energy. Needless to say, that partially or completely energy self-sufficient buildings would play a powerful role in improving the energy efficiency of the sector. As a result, the potential for smart glass is big and the glass market is expected to see double digit growth during the coming years.

Emerging Technologies accelerate intelligent glass technologies

Smart glass is not the only new application within the glass industry being developed as an answer to current energy consumption and efficiency issues. As the technology leader within the glass processing industry, Glaston’s aim is to be the industry developer and accelerator for emerging technologies. By doing so the company combines commercial targets with societal needs. At the beginning of 2017, the Glaston Emerging Technologies unit was established. The unit provides consulting and engineering services for smart glass and energy glass window production as well as solar energy applications. The unit also sells and delivers the required production lines. Potential areas are solar energy solutions, smart glass and various aviation and automotive industry products.

Currently Glaston is engaged in discussions with several companies on the development and practical application of new glass technologies. Typically, these are pioneering companies in their own fields, operating in the global market. Through its technological expertise and extensive contact network, Glaston has in a short space of time achieved the status of a proactive, reliable partner for companies developing and commercializing smart glass inventions.

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Joséphine Mickwitz

VP, IR, Communications and Marketing, Glaston Corporation