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Energy consumption of hybrid smart water-filled glass (SWFG) building envelope

journal contribution
posted on 03.12.2020, 14:30 by Matyas Gutai, Abolfazl Ganji Kheybari
Thermal properties have significant impact on ecological footprint and life-cycle assessment of buildings. This is even more crucial aspect for glass buildings, which have been criticised as major factors in climate change around the world. Recent debates on glass facades, which culminated in plans for a “glass building ban” in New York City highlighted the importance of innovation in glass construction.

The current solutions for mitigating energy consumption for glass facades are improving insulation (U-value) and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) with advanced glazing or using shading devices. A fourth approach is the recent technology of water-filled glass (WFG), which utilizes water layer to improve thermal comfort and energy performance of the façade.

This paper introduces Smart Water-filled Glass (SWFG) control method, which enables the change of the opacity of the façade element by colouring the fluid over a year regarding seasonal changes. The impact of changing transparency of water layer on cooling and heating energy demand is evaluated by simulating and analysing the energy performance of a reference office room with large glazing facade in different climates.

The significance of this energy evaluation is that a water-filled glass with switchable transparency is simulated and assessed here for the first time. The paper analyses the performance in seven cities from all relevant major climatic regions using LBNL WINDOW and TRNSYS (v.18) As a novel approach, the simulation study makes it possible to evaluate the overall performance of two proposed operational methods (insolation-based & storage-based) for adjusting water layer settings depending on climate conditions and reusability of the captured heat in water layer. Moreover, seven different base cases are presented in this study to compare the performance of proposed system, including conventional solutions (e.g. double or triple glazing with/without shading) and a state-of-the-art switchable technology (e.g. electrochromic glazing or EC).

The results verify the hypothesis that the impact of SWFG compared to WFG varies depending on the climate with 0%-5.28% for hot climates and 0.25–3.39% for climates with heating demand. The discussion includes comparison with standard glass facades, where SWFG shows 47.41%-78.01% energy savings depending on climate. The climate-based approach of SWFG and WFG offers a significant shift in façade design that sees glass buildings as an opportunity for sustainability rather than liability for climate change.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

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Energy and Buildings






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© Elsevier

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This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Energy and Buildings and the definitive published version is available at

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Dr Matyas Gutai. Deposit date: 2 December 2020

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