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“Smart glass” is arriving at a building in your area

On the list of Inflation Reduction Act’s little-noticed yet potentially game-changing provisions: a large incentive for “smart glass,” which will make buildings a lot more energy conserving.

Why it matters: Buildings take into account 27% of annual global skin tightening and emissions, by one estimate. While eco-friendly buildings aren’t as sexy or exciting as electric cars, whatever makes them greener is really a big win for hitting climate goals.

Driving the news headlines: The IRA, which President Biden signed into law earlier this month, carries a 30% smart glass tax credit.

  • Although it didn’t get much mainstream attention, that credit stands to improve adoption by reducing the effective cost of retrofitting old buildings or using smart glass in new construction.

How it operates: Smart glass, also known as “dynamic glass” or “electrochromic glass,” differs from regular glass for the reason that its tint level could be adjusted on demand think Transitions glasses, but also for buildings.

  • Smart glass contains thin layers of metal oxide. When smaller amounts of electricity are put on those layers, ions move between them, changing the glass’ tint level.
  • Once the summer sun is hitting the medial side of a building, the tint level could be increased, allowing visible light to pass but blocking some solar radiation thereby reducing incoming heat.
  • Conversely, the tint could be decreased in colder seasons, allowing more natural heat to feed.

Smart glass might help reduce a building’s heating or cooling energy needs by about 20%, per a U.S. Department of Energy estimate.

  • Plus, if plenty of buildings within a city adopt smart glass, it could decrease the peak load on the neighborhood electric grid during times of heavy use.

What they’re saying: “The demand here’s just likely to explode due to this,” says Rao Mulpuri, CEO of smart glass maker View, of the IRA tax credit.

  • View’s glass systems are linked to the cloud and managed by predictive, automatic dimming software.
  • The business’s U.S.-made glass has been or is defined to be installed at Phoenix Sky Harbor AIRPORT TERMINAL, an Amazon office in Redmond, Washington, and 10 World Trade, which aims to be among Boston’s greenest buildings.
  • Others in the area include SageGlass and Gentex, the latter which targets automotive and aerospace applications.

Yes, but: Smart glass continues to be pretty expensive, and building owners don’t change out their windows all that often.

  • Yet, much like other forms of green tech, long-term energy bill savings could make up for upfront installation costs.

What’s next: Commercial clients constitute the majority of View’s customers, but multifamily residential buildings will be the company’s fastest-growing segment.

  • If prices continue steadily to fall, smart glass could arrive in more homes.

The picture as a whole: Combined with semiconductor industry-boosting chips bill, the IRA’s green tech incentives could jump-start America’s high-tech hardware industry, Mulpuri says.

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