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New building materials to be topic

Jeremy Heiman

New energy technologies and their impact on architecture will be the subject of a local talk Wednesday by inventor and materials scientist Day Chahroudi, inventor of Low-E windows.

One of Chahroudi’s messages will be that all the energy needed to operate a building can be obtained from the environment.

“I decided as a materials scientist that I would make the surface of a building out of materials that would provide for the building’s energy needs,” Chahroudi said. “Three times as much energy falls on a building as is used inside it,” he said.

Using Chahroudi’s products, a building interacts with its environment.

“The basic idea is to build a building’s skin so it responds to the energy that’s out there,” Chahroudi said. “My main schtick is treating buildings as though they were living things.”

Chahroudi said he’s committed to getting these products into use for the good of the environment, but he has taken a route that might not be considered by others with the same commitment. He’s elected to work with large multinational corporations for the production and distribution of his materials, he said, because those corporations have the power and financial strength to get the products to market on a wide scale.

“You hear all this stuff about harnessing the sun,” Chahroudi said. “What I say about that is `bullshit.’ We’ve had the technology to do that for 20 years, and nothing has happened.”

He said he’s chosen the strategy of employing multinational corporations because the world is being destroyed so quickly by inefficient energy use that only multinational corporations have the clout to reverse the trend before it’s too late.

Chahroudi’s products are marketed widely throughout the world. Low-E is a coating used on glass that, he said, triples the insulating value of windows. Chahroudi said Low-E windows can reduce building heating and cooling costs by $1 per square foot per year, and is required by law for all new construction in Germany.

Solar energy gained through a prefabricated solar roof made with Low-E coating and another product, called Cloud Gel, can provide all of a building’s heat requirements, according to a press release. Cloud Gel, Chahroudi said, blocks off solar heat by turning white when it reaches a certain temperature.

The first building ever to use Low-E was the Rocky Mountain Institute headquarters in Old Snowmass, Chahroudi said.

Chahroudi will speak in the Pitkin County Library meeting room on Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Architects, builders and the public are invited. The lecture is sponsored by the American Institute of Architects’ West Chapter and Aspen’s Community Office for Resource Efficiency. For more information, call CORE at 544-9808.


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