Materials scientists at Jena University (Germany) are coordinating an EU-project on intelligent façades that can generate electricity, heat and algae biomass.

Windows that change their light permeability at the touch of a button; façades, whose colour can be changed according to the sunlight; façades and window parts in which transparent photovoltaic modules are integrated, or in which microalgae are being bred to provide the house with its own biofuel: This is what the buildings of the future could feature.

“Many of these ideas are certainly within imagination and even technological feasibility today, in particular within the field of façades which may adapt to their environment and thus improve the energy efficiency of modern buildings,” states Prof. Dr.-Ing. Lothar Wondraczek of the Otto Schott Institute of Materials Research (OSIM) at Jena University.

“But only a fraction of this potential has been tackled so far, as the relevant materials and production processes are still missing,” he further explains.

A new international research effort coordinated by Prof. Wondraczek, a materials scientist, is aiming to change this.

Through the project ‘Large-Area Fluidic Windows – LaWin’, scientists intend to develop functional façades and window modules, together with an integrated production process to achieve an as to yet unmatched readiness to market.

All in all, 14 participants are taking part in the ‘LaWin’ project: Aside from the academic partners at Jena University, participants from Weimar University, Beuth University of Applied Sciences, eleven industrial corporations from Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Czech Republic are involved.

Over the coming three years, the European Commission will support the project with around €6 million from the European framework programme ‘Horizon 2020’. The partaking industrial partners will be contributing a further €2.1 million.

A third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU and 40% of energy consumption are due to the heating, cooling, air conditioning and lighting of buildings.

Investments in energy efficient buildings are hence the most important levers to significantly reduce the carbon dioxide emissions and to reach the climate goals.

The topical area of ‘energy efficient buildings’ is therefore one of eight strategic key areas in which the European commission’s Public-Private-Partnership (PPP)-Initiative sees important possibilities for a sustainable reinforcement of the European innovation and industrial leadership in the global competition.