Electronically tintable glass roof lets optimal daylight in to improve student performance and well-being.
Numerous research studies show that daylighting in schools significantly improves students' performance, health and attitudes. To that end, Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., is using new dynamic window technology from SAGE Electrochromics to optimize daylight while preserving energy and beautiful views in a student building.
"Students perform better with daylighting and views. SageGlass was the best option for the Ball State project because it enabled us to maximize natural light and a view to the outdoors, while creating a space that's thermally and visually comfortable for the students inside."
Ball State installed SAGE's SageGlass® electrochromic glass in a multipurpose residence hall space to create a glass ridge roof that bathes the interior in abundant natural light while controlling solar glare, fading and heat gain. SageGlass is an electronically controlled glazing that changes tint with the flick of switch, or uses sensors in response to changing daylight conditions, so that the glass automatically darkens or clears as needed.
According to architect Ryan Benson of Schmidt Associates, Inc., who designed the project, SageGlass was a more eco-friendly and aesthetically pleasing alternative to using conventional skylights and architectural controls such as shades, exterior fins or louvers. It enabled him to incorporate more glass into the project without compromising on energy efficiency and a view to the outdoors.
"Students perform better with daylighting and views. SageGlass was the best option for the Ball State project because it enabled us to maximize natural light and a view to the outdoors, while creating a space that's thermally and visually comfortable for the students inside," Benson said.
Ball State's Manager of Campus Construction, Facilities Planning and Management, Gary Canaday, added that in addition to providing optimal lighting conditions for study, the residence hall area is used for presentations, movies and other visual activities. "We previously had regular glass skylights, but blinding glare and heat were a problem. We looked at installing mechanized shades and blinds, but that option was not attractive and would have created on-going maintenance issues. SageGlass helps us manage the sunlight coming in as well as the heat and this helps keep our energy use under control while making the students more comfortable," he said.
Historically, non-variable windows have accounted for about 30 percent of a building's heating and cooling energy usage. SageGlass has been shown in government studies to reduce energy loads for buildings by up to 20 percent and lighting costs by 60 percent, while providing building occupants with optimal, unencumbered daylight and greater comfort.
In 2010, Saint-Gobain Glass acquired 50 percent of the equity of SAGE Electrochromics for the large-scale manufacture of electrochromic glass. SAGE is building the world's first large-scale electrochromic glass plant in Faribault, Minnesota. The project, which started in November 2010, will cost about $135 million. The new plant will have an annual production capacity of more than 370,000 square meters (4 million square feet) of electrochromic glass with sizes ranging up to 1.5 x 3.5 meters (5 x 10 feet), much larger than currently available in the market. The plant is scheduled to begin production starting in mid-2012.
SAGE will remain an independent company and continue to market its SageGlass® products in North America, where they are used in hundreds of up-market commercial, institutional and residential buildings. Saint-Gobain will market SageGlass® under the QUANTUM GLASS™ brand in Europe. The two companies will work together to develop a marketing strategy for Asia and the rest of the world, leveraging Saint-Gobain's distribution partnerships.