Efforts to improve exterior shells in buildings via better insulation materials in frames and glass have led to deterioration in the indoor air quality (IAQ), especially in older buildings. The EU-funded project Climawin has developed an “intelligent window” prototype for optimal ventilation and minimal thermal loss.
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“Climawin is designed to improve comfort by pre-warming ventilation air in temperate and cool climates, and by using solar gain to save overall energy in warm or hot climates,” says project representative, Brian T. O'Brien. “Through the optimisation of thermal insulation, solar energy gains and daylight control, the window is expected to significantly improve energy efficiency and thermal comfort in both residential and commercial buildings that do not have energy efficient ventilation systems,” explains O'Brien.
The window has a myriad of features which give it clear advantages over existing technology. They include integrated vents for controlled air intake, a frame with two layers of glazing, an automated blind, integrated electronics and wireless communication between room sensors and the windows. And according to O'Brien, the Climawin system is significantly cheaper than installing windows, ventilation air heating and background ventilation systems, as “it provides all three in one.”
Climawin will be a welcome addition to EU initiatives that are pushing for energy efficiency in buildings. “Windows are the largest source of heat loss in a building yet with Climawin, the energy lost through the glass by conduction can be regained in the incoming air, raising its temperature to improve comfort and, on southern orientations, to produce a serious energy profit,” explains O'Brien.
Test results and simulations with project partner Fraunhofer Institute show that a standard building fitted only with Climawin windows would improve its energy performance by between 18 and 24% and that incoming air temperatures could be raised by up to 15°C, improving comfort while at the same time providing 50% to 200% of the energy lost through ventilation.
A follow-on FP7 project intended to monitor a number of trial installations of Climawin system across Europe are expected to run in the next two years. Commercialisation is expected to start on a gradual basis over the same period, culminating in availability of the full product in 2013 or 2014, adds O'Brien .
With nearly €1.2 million in EU-funding under the Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7), the Climawin project began in October 2010 and ran for a period of 24 months. Coordinated by Aalborg University in Denmark, the project had a total of seven partners from Germany, Portugal and Ireland.