Home » Startup develops ‘net zero glass’ that turns buildings into thermos bottles

Startup develops ‘net zero glass’ that turns buildings into thermos bottles

by Sion Geschwindt
LuxWall's design consists of two vacuum-insulated coated glass panes which retain heat four times more effectively than single-pane windows.

Windows are an easy way to keep buildings cool — but they could be better at doing the reverse. A startup partially backed by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures believes it has a solution

LuxWall’s Net Zero Glass works a little like a thermos bottle that vacuum-seals in the warmth of a morning coffee. The Michigan-based startup says its design, which consists of two vacuum-insulated coated glass panes, can retain heat four times more effectively than single-pane windows.

Breakthrough Energy and Prelude Ventures, both early investors, recently joined Khosla Ventures in a $33m Series A funding round, led by VC firm 2150, that puts the startup’s valuation at $101m.

Buildings account for 30% of global energy consumption, according to the International Energy Agency. Windows represent the largest source of heat lost and gained with global energy cost impacts of $235bn.

LuxWall’s transparent insulation net zero glass claims to cut energy consumption and carbon emissions by up to 45% and significantly reduce owner payback through energy cost savings.

LuxWall’s glass isn’t designed solely to hold in heat. Just like an insulated coffee cup can also keep cold drinks icy, the glass installation prevents outdoor heat from transferring into a building and traps in air conditioning, reducing cooling costs by 20%, according to the company. The glass can be inserted into existing window frames, and LuxWall said it has sold roughly 2,500 glass panes — mainly to private office buildings — since launching in 2016.

While LuxWall’s windows currently cost roughly 20% more than other options on the market, CEO and co-founder, Scott Thomsen, argues these costs will decrease as production scales and that, even now, they are offset over time by savings on utilities bills.

The startup’s innovation, he says, is bringing down the production costs, specifically through a continuous, low-heat manufacturing process. According to Thomsen, lowering the temperature by about 250C compared with other processes for making vacuum-insulated glass enables LuxWall to produce 1,200 units each day.

For now, the company is starting small. It employs about three dozen people and currently operates a 20,000 square foot research and development facility in Ypsilanti. With the new round of funding, LuxWall will open a new factory somewhere in the Midwest in early 2024.

While windows aren’t the flashiest solution to the climate crisis, Thomsen says disruption in the market is long overdue. “You can go 20, 30 years in the glass industry between major innovations,” he says. This technology could “take windows to the next level”.

Read next: World’s first industrial net zero cement trial launches in the UK

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