Energy Conservation – Sage Electrochromics

Reprinted with permission by the  Journal of the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association:

Faribault, Minn., is home to a new technology, with tremendous energy- saving capabilities that may well revolutionize the exterior window glass industry – it is the home of SAGE Electrochromics.  Since 2004, SAGE has been selling its glazing product into commercial buildings and residential projects across the country. Called SageGlass® glazing, this truly innovative technology promises to be a huge advancement in the conservation of energy. It also improves our indoor environments by inhibiting the undesirable effects of sunlight such as excessive heat gain, glare and fading.

SAGE’s glass is coated with five layers of ceramic materials, which have a total thickness of less than 1/50th of a human hair. Low-voltage electric current is applied across the coatings and ions travel from one layer to another layer, where a reversible, solid-state change takes place, causing the coating to tint and absorb light. Reversing the polarity of the applied voltage causes the ions to migrate back to their original layer, and the glass returns to its clear state.  And switching from clear to darkly tinted is done with the push of a button or a simple command from a building automation system!!!

When tinted, SAGE’s glass blocks 91% of solar energy penetration. In contrast, standard low-e windows block 70% or less of the sun’s energy contributing to uncomfortable temperatures and increased cooling loads. According to data from the U.S. Department of Energy, SAGE’s tintable window technology can reduce a building’s annual energy bill by as much as 28%, and cut on-peak demand for electricity by as much as 25%.

In addition, SAGE’s electronically tinted glass blocks nearly 100% of harmful UV radiation and the portion of visible light that causes fading to furniture, artwork, carpet and other materials.

In their tinted state, SageGlass® products transmit 3.5% visible light. The breakthrough benefit is that when the glass doesn’t need to be that dark—for instance, when it’s cloudy outside and you want light or it’s winter and you want heat from the sun—the untinted glass brings the visible light transmission up to 62%. It’s like having two types of glass in one window opening.

Because in many situations SageGlass products eliminate the need for shades or blinds, less artificial lighting is required enabling further energy savings without sacrificing natural light and outside views. Research shows that providing people with daylight and a connection to the outdoors can increase retail sales, improve children’s scholastic achievement, reduce absenteeism, and boost productivity in the workplace.

“The benefits and energy-efficient aspects associated with our products have a significant, positive contribution to green building practices, reliable and sustainable performance, and current economic opportunities,” says John Van Dine, SAGE’s president and CEO.

Van Dine founded the company in 1989 in a small laboratory in Valley Cottage, N.Y. After several years of research and development, SAGE moved to Minnesota, or as Van Dine calls it, “the Silicon Valley of the window industry.”

SAGE moved into its current facility in Faribault Minn., in 2005, and today is planning a four-fold expansion of its operations.

SAGE is currently developing systems that will control the intermediate levels of tint in the glass.  They expect to offer this feature at the end of 2009. SAGE is also working on a photovoltaic-powered (solar-powered) glass product. Larger glass unit sizes, along with glass panels beyond rectangular in shape (i.e. triangles, trapezoids, etc.) and glass panels that are not flat (curved, as in the windshield of your car), also are in development.

In the future, Van Dine sees SAGE’s technology used in a wide range of products including many forms of transportation windows and specialty applications.

Bill Remes

Vice President, Sales & Marketing, AmeriStar Manufacturing Inc.

Providing Metal Stamping (Short and Long Run), CNC Machining, Sheet Metal Fabrication, Assembly, Welding, Metal Finishing, Laser and Waterjet Cutting



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