Proposed DOE Cuts Would Eliminate Window Film Retrofit Programs

March 22nd, 2017 by Trey Barrineau

The 2018 budget proposal released last week by President Trump seeks $1.7 billion in cuts for the Department of Energy (DOE) — about 5.6 percent of its current funding. To achieve those reductions, the spending plan would eliminate several agencies, including the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which runs a program aimed at improving the energy efficiency of existing single-pane windows.

There are still a lot of these older products out there. The most recent Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that 48.5 million homes have single-pane windows — about 40 percent of all residential buildings in the U.S. The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) estimates that there are nearly a billion single-pane windows in existing houses, and ARPA-E research indicates that the stock of single-pane windows in residences is declining by just 2 percent a year.

ARPA-E’s SHIELD Program, an acronym for “Single-Pane Highly Insulating Efficient Lucid Designs,” aims to develop materials that boost the thermal performance of existing single-pane windows in residential and commercial buildings. The goal is to cut the amount of heat lost through single-pane windows in cold weather by at least 50 percent.

According to ARPA-E, heating, ventilation and air conditioning for buildings represented about 14 percent of total energy consumption in the U.S. in 2013.

The SHIELD program focuses on three technical categories: products that can be applied to existing window panes; manufactured window panes that can be installed into an existing window sash; and other innovative technologies that can enable products in the first two categories.

There are currently 13 projects run by universities, research labs and private companies that have received funding from ARPA-E’s SHIELD Program. Most of these projects involve window films or coatings that can be applied to existing windows. Grants for projects range from $3 million to $750,000.

ARPA-E and other DOE agencies are being targeted for elimination because “the private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies,” according to the Trump administration’s budget proposal.

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