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Passive Solar Energy

The Passive Solar Energy R&D; Group focuses on the development and adoption of high-performance windows, advanced window R&D, daylighting, and systems integration to optimize solar energy gains. Activities include electrochromic window research and industry support through the development of computer design tools, window durability methods and energy performance rating standards.

The group seeks substantial reductions in building energy consumption by making greater use of solar energy to offset heating requirements in residential buildings and lighting needs in commercial buildings. Canadian innovators are assisted in the development and rapid transfer of high-performance energy-efficient and environmentally responsible technologies to the marketplace. Activities address high-performance and advanced window R&D; industry support for accelerated adoption of efficient windows in the marketplace; daylighting and commercial building applications; and system integration and passive solar modeling. Projects range from product standards development and application assessment to technology transfer and quality assurance.

Activities are carried out on a cost-shared basis with industry and other organizations, including universities, trade associations, research councils, utilities and various levels of government. A major thrust of the group is research and technical support leading to performance standards and labeling for more rapid consumer acceptance of new products. Support is also being provided for development of super high-performance windows, which may not yet be market competitive, but further enhance the energy performance of the market’s best designs, and for ultra advanced windows based on emerging technologies such as electrochromics and aerogels. Durability research is underway to ensure that high-performance products are at least as good as conventional windows and that they maintain energy performance over their lifetime. The development of computer softwares to assist in window design, to compare and rate products, and to select the best product for a particular application is another key area of activity.

A number of innovative window technologies (for instance, insulating foam window spacers and fiberglass frame pultrusions) have advanced from the laboratory to the marketplace. Canadian manufacturers use these technologies along with triple- and quad-glazed insulating glass units and other design innovations to produce the most cost-effective high-performance windows in the world. A CANMET-supported development, the patented Super Spacer™, is used by more than 200 window manufacturers around the world.

Several specially designed computer softwares have received widespread industry acceptance, including the award-winning FRAME and VISION window design softwares. The former has been adopted for rating windows in the U.S. and has been used in Europe for design competitions.

The world’s first single-number energy rating system for residential windows has been developed and is referenced extensively in Canada’s model National Energy Code. It will have the effect of doubling the performance of windows being installed in new housing. The energy rating system also forms part of the window industry’s new voluntary product certification and labeling process that establishes new levels of quality and value.

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