INOVUES collaborated with CapitaLand, one of Asia’s largest real estate groups, and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), a pact of more than 140 utilities in the northwest US, to implement its first non-invasive commercial retrofit to existing double-glazed windows.
A relatively modern and energy-efficient building in the Portland, OR area – with traditional insulated glass windows – was selected to demonstrate INOVUES’ ability to upgrade the thermal and acoustic performance of double-glazed assemblies, which account for approximately 60% of existing commercial facades. Another key objective was to showcase the scalability of the unique retrofit technology. Due to its ability to blend seamlessly with existing glazing, the INOVUES upfit solution can be applied to a full or partial building, as well as individual tenant improvement (TI) projects.
INOVUES overclad all first-floor windows, upgrading 114 units approximately 60” wide x 72” high. The project improved the thermal and acoustic comfort across approximately 15,000 sq. ft. of leasable space.
Prove the feasibility and performance of INOVUES’ retrofit technology
Test the technology for double-glazed existing windows / facades
Maintain the existing window / facade aesthetic
Install quickly (within 2-3 weeks) and without disrupting normal building operations and occupants
INOVUES’ patented Insulated Glass Retrofit (IGR) system:
Enhances thermal and acoustic comfort and occupant productivity
Tailored to each project, scalable (from full-facade to a single floor or tenant fit-out), serviceable, and upgradable
Installs on the exterior without any removal, replacement, or disruption – no lost revenue
Double-digit (up to 40%) energy and operational carbon savings
Extends the lifetime of the existing windows by up to 20 years
10-25% of the cost of replacement windows
High ESG value
The three-story 1989 commercial office structure had undergone multiple tenant improvements over the years, but no major building envelope upgrades.
Energy use consists primarily of electricity. The first floor is served by a dedicated packaged rooftop unit with a gas-fired burner and DX cooling coil and fifteen variable air volume (VAV) boxes with electric reheat.
Existing windows feature double-layer insulated glass panes set in ¼”-deep exterior frames. Some of the windows have been replaced over the years, but most are original and in good, retrofit-ready condition.
INOVUES upgraded 3,150 sq. ft. of double-glazed windows to high-performance, hermetically-sealed triple-glazed windows. Based on parallel energy models developed and supplied by INOVUES and a third-party energy consultant, together with initial partially-calibrated test results, the retrofit is expected to improve the energy performance by 8 to 10%.
After two rounds of measurement and verification (M&V) measurements, the building is on track to surpass the original energy saving targets, conserving over 30,000 kWh of electricity per year. According to the EPA GHG calculator, based on average national data, the 30,000 kWh of savings will eliminate 22 metric tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of burning over 24,000 pounds of coal.
22 metric tons of CO2 impact is roughly equivalent to the CO2 savings from:
24,000 lbs coal not burned (EPA)
7.5 tons waste recycled instead of landfilled (EPA)
360 tree seedlings grown for 10 years (EPA)
862 fully grown trees (Encon)
In addition to the energy savings and thermal comfort, the upgrade is expected to significantly improve acoustic comfort. Initial studies have found a 5.4 dB reduction in sound transmission to the interior, compared to the existing double pane windows, in a 90 dB exterior noise simulation. This equals over 70% reduction in sound energy, a welcome enhancement given the building’s close proximity to a commuter railway and major roads. It also surpasses the originally targeted 3 dB improvement.
According to the WELL Building Standard®, an internationally-recognized, performance-based system for measuring the built environment’s impact on human health and wellbeing, “exposure to noise sources, such as traffic and transportation have been shown to hinder the health and well-being of people in a number of different ways… With the fortification of façade elements, exterior noise intrusion can be subdued, much to the benefit of occupant comfort, health and productivity.” Additionally, a study published in the National Library of Medicine, demonstrates that a more comfortable and quiet office environment can boost work performance by between 2.4% and 14.8%.
3 Pillars of Sustainability
Economic + Environmental + People Benefit
Economic – Reusing the existing windows to create the new multi-layer, high-performance insulated glass units minimizes the cost of implementation and disruption to normal business operations.
Environmental – Upcycling the glazing in-place minimizes waste and results in both operational and embodied carbon savings.
People – Improved thermal and acoustic comfort for occupants; supporting the local economy by implementing a product that is designed, engineered, and fabricated in the USA and installed using local skilled labor.
Project Background & Execution
The retrofit came about as a result of INOVUES’ High Impact Win in the 2021 CapitaLand Sustainability X Challenge (CSXC). CSXC is the first global sustainability innovation challenge by a Singapore-based real estate company where winners receive funding for their pilots and are given the chance to testbed their projects at CapitaLand properties around the world. INOVUES was selected from 270 entries in 25 countries in the inaugural event last year.
NEEA collaborated on the project, as part of its Window Attachments Commercial Field Test program. Through NEEA, the local utility provided free third-party energy monitoring, measurement, and verification, as well as additional financial incentives to the building owner.
NEEA appointed Energy 350, an independent sustainability consultancy, to validate INOVUES’ impact through multiple sensors, meters, spot measurements, thermal imaging, sound testing, and energy modeling. Energy 350 installed current transformers for the 15 VAV boxes and the packaged rooftop unit, a power meter, a weather station, and temperature sensors.
The 1-year M&V process is complemented with blower door testing, utility data from the tenant, energy modeling, thermal imaging, and spot measurements on glass temperature and radiant temperature near the window.
“This type of technology provides a range of energy and non-energy benefits,” said Rick Dunn, Senior Product Manager for the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA). “We are seeing a significant reduction in ambient noise and significant improvement in thermal comfort at the perimeter of the building.”
Work was performed over a couple of weeks entirely on the exterior face of the building, without the need for scaffolding or cranes. Unlike a traditional replacement or re-glazing intervention, INOVUES’ process did not disrupt normal building operations and the occupants.
To maintain a uniform facade appearance, minimize thermal transfer through the windows, and optimize ROI, INOVUES selected low-e coated clear glass to upfit the first floor.
The upgrade cost approximately $50/sq. ft. after installation. It is important to note that the pricing of INOVUES’ tailored retrofit solutions is highly dependent on the client’s key objectives, glass and system selection, project size and location, size, accessibility and current condition of the windows, as well as local labor rates. INOVIES conducts a detailed cost-benefit analysis of each building to review with the client before undertaking any project. The goal is to maximize performance at the highest ROI and shortest possible payback period.
The project brought important wins and lessons on commercialization and scaling to larger projects. In addition to delivering greater than expected thermal and acoustic benefits, it created opportunities to continue improving on the INOVUES technology and process.
INOVUES makes existing buildings more energy-efficient and sustainable through a range of non-invasive insulating glass retrofit solutions. The company's patented technologies are engineered to integrate the latest glass innovations; are quick and easy to install; and do not require any removal, replacement, or disruption to normal building operations. INOVUES offers building owners and managers a high-ROI, low-carbon path to save up to 40% on energy consumption, improve indoor thermal and acoustic comfort, and increase the value and sustainability of the buildings.