Photovoltaic Windows Cut Energy Use and CO2 Emissions by 40% in Highly Glazed Buildings

Vincent Wheeler, Janghyun Kim, Tom Daligault, Bryan Rosales, Chaiwat Engtrakul, Robert Tenent, Lance Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus Citations


Buildings account for 30% of global energy use. The architectural trend across building sectors is toward more glass despite higher energy use and carbon emissions than opaque cladding alternatives. Numerous window technologies—low-emissivity coatings, triple glazing, dynamic tinting, and the more recently developed photovoltaic glass—have emerged in the last two decades as approaches to reduce building energy. However, a comprehensive understanding of where and how these window technologies can be installed to enable optimal energy savings under different climate conditions remains limited. Here we test window technologies using thousands of macroscale building-energy simulations for different climate zones and building designs to evaluate the associated net energy use and carbon-emissions reduction potential. Novel window technologies, especially photovoltaic windows with high thermal performance, offer energy savings in all climates, ranging from 10,000–40,000 GJ per year over substandard windows for a typical office building, resulting in up to 2,000 tons of annual CO2 emissions reduction. Highly glazed, net-zero buildings are achievable via photovoltaic windows when combined with careful geometric considerations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1271-1285
Number of pages15
JournalOne Earth
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-82090


  • glazing
  • green building
  • net-zero
  • organic photovoltaics
  • perovskite
  • photovoltaics
  • urban
  • window


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