Smart Solar Windows – A Step Towards Carbon Neutral Buildings

EPA Grant Number: SU835704
Title: Smart Solar Windows – A Step Towards Carbon Neutral Buildings
Investigators: Patrick, David L. , Love, Edwin
Current Investigators: Patrick, David L. , Slater, Adam , Loper, Ashley , Erickson, Christian , Love, Edwin , Bouscher, Hannah , Kintzele, James , Mayther, James , Sumner, Ryan , O'Sell, Sarah
Institution: Western Washington University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2014 through August 14, 2015
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Challenge Area - Air Quality , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


The goal of this project is to develop and demonstrate a new, cost-effective smart window technology combining a transparent photovoltaic solar concentrator with wireless electronics to both produce power and reduce HVAC building loads within an existing building footprint. To achieve this goal, an interdisciplinary team consisting of chemistry, engineering, industrial design, and business students has been assembled to design, build and test the proposed new technology.


The proposed smart solar window is based upon a recent advance in luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) technology. The LSC consists of a thin, semiconductor quantum dot-containing polymer film that can be applied to a glass window pane, allowing it to collect UV light and concentrate it at the edges of the window. There it is converted into electricity by thin strips of photovoltaic cells. The window appears clear and colorless, but instead of reflecting UV light, it harvests it to generate power. This power will be used to run motors which open and close the window, synergistically providing cooling and airflow in wireless coordination with the building’s HVAC system. Excess power produced by the window is supplied to the grid via an integrated micro-inverter. The new technology thus has the potential to both generate more renewable power within the same building footprint, while substantially reducing HVAC power consumption, representing an important step toward the development of fully carbon neutral buildings and communities.

Expected Results:

The student team, working under the direction of Chemistry Professor D Patrick and Business Professor Edwin Love, and in consultation with industry experts from local PV panel manufacturer itek Energy, will develop and refine the concept, produce, and test a working prototype. The smart solar window is projected to generate up to 30 W/m2 of electricity, of which most will be put onto the grid through an integrated micro-inverter. The window will also demonstrate wireless communication capability, and the ability to independently open and close for ventilation. More broadly, the team will gain experience in the development of new renewable energy and green building technology, and advance the state of the art in building-integrated photovoltaics and smart HVAC systems.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 5 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 1 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

solar energy, sustainable design, earth-abundant materials, chemistry, engineering, industrial design

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    Smart Solar Windows – A Step Towards Carbon Neutral Buildings  | 2016 Progress Report  | Final Report