Sage Electrochromics has received an $80 million strategic investment to help bring their relatively inexpensive electronically-tintable dynamic glass to market. Sage makes a glass technology that absorbs heat, and the best measure of its potential may be the identity of their new investor: Saint-Gobain, one of the world’s largest glass and construction material manufacturers.
SageGlass can be switched from clear to darkly-tinted at the click of a button, or programmed to respond to changing sunlight and heat conditions. It can significantly reduce a building’s heating, cooling and lighting costs. In fact, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, “[SageGlass] has the potential to reduce building heating and air conditioning equipment size by up to 25%, resulting in construction cost savings. SageGlass could also potentially reduce overall cooling loads for commercial buildings up to 20% by lowering peak power demand and may reduce lighting costs by up to 60% while providing building occupants with more natural daylight and greater comfort.”
Building efficiency is a major piece of the U.S.’s energy efficiency puzzle, and in February the DOE launched a $129.7 million initiative to create a research center dedicated exclusively to developing new building efficiency technologies. Buildings account for nearly 40% of U.S. energy consumption and carbon emissions. Improvements in building efficiency will provide significant benefits — reducing energy use, lowering utility bills and decreasing carbon emissions.
What’s more, the DOE offered a $72 million conditional loan guarantee to SageGlass in 2009.
The new funding will help support construction of Sage’s new factory in Faribault, Minnesota. Ground broke last month, and when the factory is complete it will be able to manufacture much larger sheets of electrochromic glass than previously possible — 5 feet x 10 feet — which opens Sage to a much larger commercial market. The companies expect to begin high-volume shipments of their first merged-technology glass in mid-2012.
“Until now, electrochromic glass has largely been an emerging product, not widely deployed due to cost and manufacturing logistics,” explains explained Sage Founder and CEO John Van Dine. “This alliance will trigger economies of scale, making possible a new era of high-performance windows that are both eco-friendly and economically compelling.”
Saint-Gobain launched its own advanced glazing division, Quantum Glass, last year, and will market SageGlass in Europe under the Quantum Glass brand. It will also offer Sage its own electrochromic glass intellectual property.