In an era of increasing environmental awareness, consumers and corporations are seeking ways to make their homes and offices more energy efficient. In the U.S., energy consumption in buildings represents one-third of all the energy used in the country and NanoMarkets believes that in other countries statistics of this kind would not be all that different from what we see in the U.S.
Windows are notoriously leaky in terms of energy. This represents an opportunity to produce more energy-efficient windows. Much of the technology being developed in this space relates to better insulated windows, but so-called smart windows (a.k.a. self-dimming windows) are also likely to be an important part of the mix and an important contributor to the revenue stream.
The Regulatory Push for Smart Windows Gains Momentum
NanoMarkets believes that just with market forces alone (especially the rising costs of energy) smart windows technology might have done quite well. However, another kind of wind in the sails of this technology is regulatory in nature.
There are many laws and regulations that impact the prospects for smart windows positively. These are to be found in the construction domain, as well as the electricity and energy consumption domain and they are designed to promote the use of smart windows to reduce heating, cooling and lighting costs. More specifically, the regulatory factors that are currently influencing the energy consumption by both residential as well as commercial structures include building codes based on the zero-energy building concept and the LEED standards. Many local, regional and national governments across Europe, North America and Asia are looking to ensure that this goal becomes a reality.
NanoMarkets believes that the market will open up to smart windows to accommodate the increasingly stringent codes and the standards set for construction projects and this trend will only become stronger in the coming years, as regulations are increasingly designed to ensure that all buildings follow the sustainability norms set by them.
China: While the regulatory trends promoting the use of smart windows are well understood and have been impactful for several years, NanoMarkets notes that the growing technological sophistication of China is a new factor that will increasingly play a role in the growth of smart windows. In particular, Chinese energy and environmental policy will be of key importance.
In fact, NanoMarkets sees China as moving to make green building a centerpiece of its energy plan. Thirty percent of new construction in China will be energy efficient by 2020, according to a document released by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. China wants its building sector energy consumption ratio to be closer to that of developed countries and plans to provide incentives for green buildings, raise industry standards and foster development of related industries.
The combination of regulatory factors and the rising cost of energy will, we believe, grow the smart windows sector well out of niche status in the next couple of years.