The Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) announced two requests for information (RFI) to solicit feedback from a wide range of stakeholders on BTO’s strategic direction and research and development (R&D) investment in windows and opaque building envelopes. BTO would like to better understand how its research goals can be refined to reflect market needs and inform related R&D activities.

These goals are articulated in two draft Research and Development Opportunities (RDO) reports issued earlier this month. The RDO for Opaque Envelopes and the RDO for Windows reports reflect feedback from ongoing stakeholder engagement and detail BTO’s technical analysis for overcoming barriers to the development and adoption of next-generation windows and building envelopes.

Input from the RFIs will help finalize the RDO reports later in 2020.

To read and respond to the RFIs, follow the links below:

Opaque Building Envelopes

The building envelope—the barrier that helps maintain comfortable indoor conditions irrespective of prevailing outdoor conditions—is the single largest contributor to primary energy use in residential and commercial buildings. According to the U.S Energy Information Administration, the building envelope influences heating, cooling, and lighting uses that represent 13% of total U.S. primary energy use.

The “opaque” envelope comprises all elements of the building envelope besides windows, such as walls, roofs, and foundations. Novel opaque envelope technologies could dramatically reduce building energy use while simultaneously delivering additional benefits such as comfort, well-being, and productivity for building owners and occupants. The draft RDO for Opaque Envelopes report identifies technologies that have the greatest potential to transform opaque envelope performance in new and existing buildings.

The Opaque Envelopes RDO features five key areas of technology R&D:

  • Ultra-High R/in Insulation Materials
  • Envelope Diagnostic Technologies and Modeling Tools
  • Envelope Remediation Technologies
  • Tunable Transport Materials
  • Energy Storage Systems

The RDO report identifies current envelope characteristics, the aforementioned R&D opportunity areas, and integration approaches and implementation pathways for increased adoption of high-performance envelope technologies.

Read the RDO Report for Opaque Envelopes.


Windows have a significant influence on a building’s overall energy performance. They also provide an opportunity for efficiency improvement and comfort. Advanced and novel window technologies could yield substantial energy savings while also reducing peak electricity demand in a building’s energy performance. The draft RDO for Windows identifies how high-performance window technologies, as well as integrated daylighting and shading technologies, can have the potential to improve window performance across all building types. The report provides guidance on BTO’s partnership with industry and researchers to advance next-generation technologies in windows.

The Windows RDO features three key areas of technology R&D:

  • Highly Insulating Windows
  • Dynamic Solar Control
  • Daylighting and Shading

BTO is requesting feedback on planned technical objectives, technical targets, tools, overall R&D activities and estimates of program impacts.

Read the Windows RDO report.