Pathway to Zero Energy Windows: Advancing Technologies and Market Adoption

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


As of 2021, buildings account for 39.1% of total U.S. primary energy use and 75% of total U.S. electricity use. Much of this energy is used to maintain a comfortable indoor environment. The building envelope consists of transparent and opaque elements that serve as a controllable barrier to help maintain the indoor environment regardless of external conditions. The envelope also allows the exchange of light and air, as well as other transfers with the external environment when it is beneficial for the building occupants. By leveraging desirable external environmental conditions (e.g., fresh air and natural light) and mitigating the influence of undesirable conditions (e.g., moisture, hot or cold temperatures, wind), the building envelope can reduce the need for space conditioning and electric light, and thus reduce energy use associated with lighting and heating, cooling, and ventilation equipment. In turn, high- performance building envelopes can reduce the substantial CO2 emissions associated with energy use to satisfy heating, cooling, and lighting needs in buildings. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Building Technologies Office's (BTO's) Emerging Technologies program supports R&D for technologies, systems, and software tools that can contribute to reductions in building energy use. Emerging Technologies funding is distributed competitively through solicitations (e.g., Funding Opportunity Announcements and National Lab Calls, which in general are open to applications from industry, academia, national laboratories, and other entities) and other mechanisms. This document focuses on R&D for windows and window system technologies and will provide guidance for BTO's investments in developing the next generation of high-performance, affordable, cost competitive windows, as well as integrated daylighting and shading technologies in partnership with industry and researchers. This document also addresses areas where DOE invests in software and design tools that translate sophisticated and complex physics into easy-to-use energy performance and optimization methods used by industry and other stakeholders for implementation.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages82
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5500-80171

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102022-5586


  • building energy efficiency
  • building envelope
  • daylighting
  • dynamic glazing
  • dynamic solar control
  • dynamic windows
  • glazing
  • IGU
  • R&D roadmap
  • roadmap
  • solar control
  • visible light redirection
  • window attachments
  • window modeling


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