As the Biden Administration steers us away from the Trump-era attitudes of yesterday and rejoins the Paris Agreement, our nation’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions has been renewed. But in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach net zero by 2050, our leaders must adapt existing city infrastructures to improve energy use and implement smart policies to drive change.
Biden’s Build Back Better plan is projected to create upwards of 10 million clean energy jobs, reallocating $7 trillion in funds not just for economic recovery but for investments in infrastructure as well. Renewable energies and sustainable technologies will lay the foundation for the future, and government policy will help guide these efforts. But with this influx of funds earmarked in part to help subsidize green technology, lawmakers need to be wary of self-dealing politics and run a fine-toothed comb over proposals brought to the floor.
Recently, the Dynamic Glass Act of 2021 was reintroduced by Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford—a bill that was originally introduced in 2019 by representatives of the state of Mississippi, where View Smart Windows has an electrochromic glass production plant—that shores up special interests and stinks of legislative manipulation capitalizing at the expense of climate change momentum. If passed, this bill would give subsidies for a single type of smart glass product, violating everything we as Americans value about the free market.
Electrochromic glass isn’t the only type of smart glass on the market, and it’s also not the most sustainable. One of the product’s greatest limitations is that it’s difficult to retrofit due to its composition. The issue with this is that there are a lot more existing buildings than there are new buildings being built. Buildings use exorbitant amounts of electricity and are a significant producer of carbon, and building owners and managers are starting to realize that there isn’t an easy way to build themselves out of this problem.
Simply put, starting over from the ground up is impractical. What’s practical is the adoption of new and existing technologies to adapt current structures to improve energy efficiency and bring us closer to carbon zero. The smart glass industry as a whole should be moving toward sustainable solutions that renovate rather than rebuild.
What’s best for the environment, and ultimately consumers, is for any bill of this nature to be inclusive. All smart glass technologies should be included in this legislation, including Electrochromic (EC), Electrokinetic, Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal (PDLC), Suspended Particles Devices (SPD), and those yet to be invented. The US economy was founded under free market principles—imagine if Congress passed a bill giving Tesla license to be the sole producer of electric vehicles. This type of restrictive legislation does not foster healthy competition and stifles innovation, which is counterproductive.
Advances in innovative green technology are essential to creating sustainable cities, and it’s critical that government regulation be inclusive of all technologies. Bill Gates said it best in his most recent book, “Governments can play a huge role by adopting zero-carbon policies and reshaping the way markets attract money for these projects. A few principles: Government policies should be technology neutral (benefiting any solutions that reduce emissions, rather than a few favored ones).”
Smart glass is climate smarter glass—it can deliver significant energy savings via the reduction of HVAC during the summer months. Air conditioning use in the US is responsible for 6% of the country’s total energy use, and as summer temperatures continue to rise, this will likely increase. The US Department of Energy estimates that smart glass could reduce the nation’s total yearly energy consumption by 1% and save more than 10 billion dollars annually.
Commercial buildings in the US account for 19% of the country’s total energy consumption and dated windows are a significant source of energy waste—430 billion kWh of electricity or roughly 30% of total building energy use. While smart glass technology isn’t the end all be all answer to our climate change problems, it’s certainly part of the solution.
In order to allow technologies to develop and evolve competitively, the market must be inclusive. Ultimately, the leaders of the US government must put pen to paper and enact policies that have environmental interests at heart and take climate change into consideration. The Dynamic Glass Act of 2021 is just one industry example of private interests trying to push personal agendas through political connections.
Smart policies that support clean energy initiatives, sustainable technologies, and combat climate change are the cornerstone of a sustainable future and energy-efficient smart buildings are a piece of that foundation. Why limit sustainability efforts—the fact is that with exclusivity, everybody loses.
Written By Laura Lemire
Article originally published by Crown Electrokinetics™
Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of IGS Magazine