Doris Sung shares how she designs energy-saving windows
In the United States, buildings account for about 40 percent of all energy use, and heating and air conditioning makes up a 12 percent slice of that. If we could minimize how much sunlight heats up buildings through windows—and therefore lower air conditioning usage—it would be better for the planet. Unfortunately, current solutions, like Low-E glass, act like giant sunglasses and can disrupt sleep cycles and productivity, Doris Sung, an architect at the University of Southern California and co-founder of TBM Designs, says. In response to this problem, Sung, a Cooper Hewitt 2021 National Design Award winner, designed the InVert™ Self-Shading Window, which is composed of strands of fluttery pieces of a bendable metal.
“When the sun is directly hitting the pieces inside the window, they flip to block the sun from heating the interior. This effect shades the building from the sun, prevents solar heat gain and reduces the need for air conditioning,” she says.
The windows reduce air-conditioning usage by 25 percent and don’t require any energy or any controls to operate—just the sun’s rays. “For every 12-story building that uses InVert™, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by approximately 360 metric tons of CO2,” Sung says.
In February, an exhibit featuring InVert™ technology—called sm[ART]box—will open on California State University, Long Beach’s campus; and another installation for a housing project in southern Los Angeles will open later in the year, too. Over the next couple of years, InVert™ technology will make its way across the nation—to a skylight for the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, a terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport and a luxury store.