Vitro contributes to Weber State University’s Solar Decathlon success

The goal of the WSU project was to manage the “true cost of home ownership,” making sustainable living more affordable for the average homeowner

Vitro Architectural Glass donated Solarban® 70 solar control, low-emissivity (low-e) glass, which played an integral role in Weber State University’s (WSU’s) achievement of first place in the energy performance contest of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon® 2020 Build Challenge.

In addition to earning the energy performance contest win, the WSU team’s project – now a 2,540 square-foot home in Ogden, Utah – finished fifth overall in the 2020 Build Challenge. More than 70 collegiate teams competed in the 2020 Solar Decathlon®.

The WSU team chose Solarban® 70 glass for the 2020 Build Challenge project after researching its benefits and determining its cost-saving features and increased efficiency would offer the best solution for meeting the project’s budget and performance demands.

The windows for the WSU project were supplied by AMSCO Windows in Salt Lake City and contained Solarban® 70 solar control, triple-silver-coated low-e glass combined with the AMSCO Studio Series vinyl frame to create windows that provide superior thermal control while optimizing visible light transmittance. The windows were maximized on the eastern side of the home to allow more solar heat gain in the winter and limited on the western and southern sides to minimize heat gain in the summer, further capitalizing on the energy efficiency benefits of Solarban® 70 glass.

Combining Solarban® 70 glass with conventional clear glass in a standard ¾-inch residential insulating glass unit (IGU) offers visible light transmittance (VLT) of 63 percent and a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.27, meaning the glass prevents more than 70 percent of heat energy from the sun from entering the home.

Lighting and temperature control are two of the largest energy consumers in a home. In addition to helping cut summer cooling costs and reducing energy expenses related to indoor lighting, Solarban® 70 glass has a high U-value that helps to cut winter heat loss from residential windows in half compared to ordinary clear glass. The glass’s ability to block ultraviolet (UV) light also can help protect furniture, fabrics and carpet from fading.

“Since 2005, Vitro and its legacy company PPG have supported multiple Solar Decathlon® Build Challenge teams in maximizing their energy performance with solar control, low-e glass windows,” said Nathan McKenna, director of marketing and innovation, Vitro Architectural Glass. “The Solarban® family of glass features superior thermal control and energy efficiency attributes that are essential to designing sustainable buildings and unmatched in the architectural glass industry.”

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® has hosted 10 Build Challenge contests since 2002 that have challenged collegiate student teams to design and build highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy. The Build Challenge energy performance contest score represents the combined total of five related sub-contests, including: energy efficiency, energy production, net-zero plus energy, demand response and off-grid functionality.

The goal of the WSU project was to manage the “true cost of home ownership,” making sustainable living more affordable for the average homeowner. The team estimates it will cost just over 100 USD annually (approximately 9 USD per month) to power the home through its connection to the electrical grid, which is a drastic reduction in annual energy costs compared to similar homes in Ogden.

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