Smart Windows for Smart Buildings

EPA Grant Number: SU831878
Title: Smart Windows for Smart Buildings
Investigators: Hight, Tim , Kitts, Chris , Gonzalez, Jorge , Aschheim, Mark
Current Investigators: Hight, Tim , DeTorres, Aldwin , Kitts, Chris , Fernandes, Crystal , McCabe, John , Gonzalez, Jorge , Pennington, Kelly , Aschheim, Mark , Pargett, Michael , Koong, Richard , Millward, Steven
Institution: Santa Clara University
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Roughly one third of all energy consumed in the U.S. is used in the residential or commercial sector. Of that, over half of the energy is used to provide lighting and to control the temperature of those buildings. “Smart buildings” is a concept to apply principles of extreme energy conservation and intelligent control systems to minimize the energy use of any structure, while maximizing comfort and air quality. Through a combination of active and passive measures, substantial reductions in resource use can be achieved. This proposal is aimed at one aspect of the Smart Building – Smart Windows.


The challenge is to design a system that can actively adjust the window configuration and coordinate its actions with a building’s lighting and HVAC systems in order to maintain the environment desired by a building occupant while minimizing energy costs. We will assemble an interdisciplinary team of students to design a cost-effective system to meet this objective through the used of highly insulated glass, active louvered shades, photovoltaic cells, environmental sensors, micro controllers, and communication links. The development process will include detailed design, simulation, analysis, and optimization of the system (including total cost projections), completion of functional prototypes, and systems testing and evaluation. Our design will be verified and validated through comparative testing with conventional systems.

This project will have clear benefit to people by increasing comfort and lowering costs, while improving air quality. The planet will benefit due to reduced energy consumption and corresponding reductions in emissions and warming. Commercialization of this system will provide direct prosperity through manufacturing, sales, distribution, installation, and service of the systems, and reduced energy production and infrastructure costs.

Metrics for success of this design will be reductions in energy and resource consumption, and increases in interior comfort level, interior air quality, and ease of use. The data for the new system will be compared to the conventional benchmark system with standard windows and thermal control systems.

Expected Results:

The Smart Window project will be integrated into existing Senior Design courses throughout the school of engineering. All engineering seniors will be exposed to the project and the results and to the basic principles of sustainability. The basic design of such a system will be included in our Freshman Introduction to Engineering course, so that all engineering students will be engaged. The Faculty Advisors will incorporate direct exposure to this problem throughout other engineering courses (such as Thermo, Heat Transfer, Engineering Economics, etc.) to multiply the impact of the design project. The Smart Window will serve as a case study in the sustainability chapter of the school-wide Engineering Handbook.

Supplemental Keywords:

indoor air, sustainable development, innovative technology, housing, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, indoor air, Ecology and Ecosystems, Engineering, Environmental Engineering, energy conservation, green design, sustainable development, ecological design, environmental conscious construction, green building design, alternative building technology, smart buildings, architecture, indoor air quality, environmentally conscious design, architectual design

Relevant Websites:

Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report