The Environment+Energy Leader Honoree program is an annual list that recognizes the environment and energy “doers” who break trail in creating new solutions, programs, platforms, best practices and products to help their companies – or other companies – achieve greater success in commercial and industrial environment and energy management. Meet the Honorees… is an ongoing series that will feature one E+E Honoree from 2022 each week. See the complete list of 2022 Honorees here.
Meet Miles Barr, co-founder and chief technology officer of Ubiquitous Energy. Miles previously served as the company’s first CEO, securing several rounds of funding and growth through initial pilot production. “I wear many different hats on a day-to-day basis, including leading our technology organization, strategic planning, developing new partnerships, and external speaking engagements,” he says. “On the technology front, my team works on a wide range of topics, from research and development of our next generation materials to product development and manufacturing.”
For his innovations in the solar industry over the past decade, Barr has been named an MIT Technology Review Innovator Under 35 and a Forbes 30 Under 30 in Energy.
Tell us about your biggest energy management challenge and how you are addressing it.
Miles Barr: Our focus as a company is to enable widespread adoption of renewable energy by integrating energy harvesting capability directly into surfaces all around using our UE Power transparent solar technology. We’re starting with architectural glass where we can reduce society’s carbon impact by invisibly generating renewable solar energy directly from any residential or commercial building window. Our technology paired with architectural glass could offset up to 30% of a building’s electricity consumption, and cumulatively could offset up to 10% of global carbon emissions by transforming all passive glass surfaces into electricity-generating glass. This is a huge win for the environment and something we feel very passionate about.
What was a successful project or implementation you worked on at your company that you can share? Do you have any tips that would help colleagues at other companies who are contemplating similar projects?
MB: We were able to successfully design, build, and launch our pilot manufacturing line two years ago to produce and install our first transparent solar windows in tenant occupied buildings around the world. You can now see our technology in action in places like Michigan State University, Boulder, CO, Tokyo, and our headquarters in Redwood City, CA. The effort took a vision, persistence, attention to engineering details, and an all-hands-on deck mentality. Nearly every person at our company had some part to play, from designing the chemistry, to developing prototypes, to establishing the manufacturing and installation process, to building relationships within the architectural glass industry.
What trends do you expect to see in the market in the next few years?
We expect to see a rise in sustainable building in all areas of construction. What once was a conversation is now becoming a reality. Architects and developers are more keen to adopt alternative, energy efficient solutions than ever before.
Tell us about a favorite hobby, passion or book you’ve read recently that has had an impact on you and your work.
MB: I studied music in college and play trombone and piano. I’m not very good anymore, but music has always provided a creative outlet for me, whether as a performer or audience member. As an engineer now, I find there to be a surprising amount of overlap between music and engineering.