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New sustainability and green requirements are the catalyst for new materials and products that can achieve improved results. These materials and products are worth exploring and will bring sustainability to the next level.

To help architects meet their goals, a new wave of chemistry and material science is bringing innovative materials and building systems to the marketplace. From advanced insulation foams to multiwall cladding, this next generation of high-performing materials will help accelerate energy-efficient design.

Learn more about some of the high performing materials of today and tomorrow.

1. Smarter windows power up with nanotechnology
Princeton University researchers predict that futuristic smart windows could save up to 40 percent in energy costs. The researchers developed a new type of smart window that controls the amount of light and heat entering the building and is self-powered by transparent solar cells in the window itself. The technology is deposited on a glass as a thin film, and the researchers are working to develop a flexible version that could be easily applied to existing windows. Eventually, homeowners and building managers could use an app on their phone to adjust the amount of sunlight passing through a window throughout the day to help save on heating and cooling costs.

2. Engineered wood products reach new heights
Think impressive, dramatic curving beams in homes and taller-than-ever before mixed wood buildings. Cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels are a relatively new material for architects that can be used to help meet these design goals. CLT offers certain advantages in terms of energy efficiency when compared to wood. CLT can also be made in dimensions up to 10 feet wide, 40 feet long and more than a foot thick. With engineered wood products, the wood fibers reinforce the lumber, making it potentially stronger than 100 percent recycled plastic. Furthermore, plastic functions as an outside barrier protecting the wood from rotting. Compared to only approximately 63 percent of a tree that can be used in solid lumber, composite panels can allow for more than 95 percent of the tree to be used.

3. Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) go gray

The major components of SIPs, foam and oriented strand board (OSB), take less energy and raw materials to produce than other structural building systems. And while building professionals already rely on SIPs for energy efficiency, new advances in the panels will further enhance insulation throughout a building envelope. For example, some manufacturers are now producing panels with graphite polystyrene (GPS) insulation, easily recognized by its gray color, and which helps boost the panel’s R-values even higher—sometimes more than 20 percent higher. In some cases, building professionals and architects can specify thinner panels while still meeting energy code requirements. SIPs may also aid architects in achieving LEED Platinum certification and Passive House standards.

Read on to discover five more innovative, new products.
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