3.5 percent of the energy used in the United States goes right out the window—wasted because of inefficient glass panes in winter and summer. Now scientists have given us a way to utilize sustainable tree products as a replacement for the costly glass.
A researcher at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, Junyong Zhu, has collaborated with colleagues from the University of Maryland and University of Colorado to develop a transparent wood material that looks clearly like the window of tomorrow.
They have demonstrated that transparent wood has the potential to outperform glass windows in nearly every way, making it one of the most promising materials of the future.
While glass is the most common material used in window construction it comes with a costly economic and ecological price.
Heat easily transfers through it, especially single pane, and leads to higher energy bills when it escapes during cold weather and pours in when it's warm. Transparent wood is approximately five times more thermally efficient than glass, substantially cutting energy costs.
Glass production used for construction also comes with a heavy carbon footprint. Manufacturing emissions alone are around 25,000 metric tons per year, without considering the heavy footprint of also transporting the glass.