Control natural light

by Kacey Larsen

SageGlass is the result of the company’s founder and vice chairman, John Van Dine, asking a question: Why can’t you build the tinting or shadow for a window right into the glass so you don’t need blinds, shades, louvers and more to lessen the impact of the sun? After years of research and development, SageGlass, a product of Saint-Gobain, was introduced to the market as the solution to that question.
SageGlass is an electronically tinted glass that responds to external conditions, like sunlight and glare, and reduces the visible light transmission and solar heat gain for a space. While primarily used in commercial and high-end residential projects presently, the insulated glass unit (IGU) fulfills a need that occurs in homes and business alike. The two key parameters of SageGlass, according to Derek Malmquist, vice president of marketing, are how much light you’re letting in and then how much heat you’re controlling. The “secret sauce” is the micro-thin layer of film that gets applied to the glass comprised of five different sublayers, which are the 1/50th the thickness of human hair. Applying low-voltage causes the coating to darken or, conversely, removing the low-voltage causes the glass to return to a clear state.
“Typically the glass is controlled by external light sensors you can actually incorporate and have built into a building or home management system. For the most part, if you are in a building or home with SageGlass, you never really have to do anything; it’s basically preprogrammed so when external conditions are such that you would want tinting the glass would tint automatically but there is always a manual override,” explains Malmquist. “Now with the [electrochromatic glazing technology] you can do what we call intermediate or variable states, allowing you the ability to customize and let more or less light in depending on the circumstances.”
SageGlass is available in a wired and wireless option, presenting options for new construction or retrofit applications. Traditional SageGlass functions with low-voltage DC wiring, which an electrician is recommended to have install. SageGlass Unplugged is a solar-powered version of the product, featuring built-in photovoltaic panels on the bottom or side of the unit that then feed the batteries that control the tinting. A third option available is LightZone, which allows the tint to be controlled for three sections of one page of SageGlass and supports the idea of enhancing natural daylight.
“LightZone is the ability to have zoning within any large pane of glass – up to 5 ft. by 10 ft. – in any combination you want and the size of the zones is completely customizable too,” Malmquist says. “If the sun is at a very high angle, you could have the top third (for example) be fully tinted to prevent sunlight or glare from getting in. You could have the middle third be in an intermediate state to block some of the residual heat or glare, and then you could have the bottom third be completely clear so you’re letting natural daylight in. Or you could do it in any combination thereof.”
Windows and skylights that feature SageGlass can be found through the company’s partnerships with Marvin Windows and Doors, H Window Company or partnerships with commercial framing companies as situations arise.
“SageGlass is pretty much just about the glass and IGU, so SageGlass would build its glass into the IGU as specified by an architect or designer. What Sage would end up building is that insulated glazing unit with its glass in place of regular glass,” Malmquist says. “The most common scenario today is where an architect or designer comes across the product, sees the potential, talks with Sage and then Sage can pull in a window partner who can help with the specifications for those particular IGUs.”
While there is presently a bit of a process and a bit of a premium to use SageGlass in a residential setting, Malmquist does expect the company to become more focused on the market in the near future.
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