Electrochromic glass — so-called “smart glass” — is not a new invention, but recently it has transformed the indoor experience by connecting the built environment with the natural one. The change is due in part to a renewed focus on sustainability, as well as a rising awareness of the psychological benefits of feeling connected to the outdoors.

Windows into nature

“We make dynamic windows for dynamic people,” says Alan McLenaghan, CEO of smart glass manufacturer SageGlass. “With this technology, you can install windows and glass in your building without worrying about letting in too much daylight or heat.”

“We create a comfortable interior environment,” says Lou Podbelski, VP of Architectural Solutions. “There’s only one reason we have a window, and that’s to connect to the outdoors. But then people immediately put a shade over it.” The adaptability of smart glass uses controls to alter the glass’ tint according to the time of day or weather — eliminating the need for shades and blinds.

'“There’s only one reason we have a window, and that’s to connect to the outdoors. But then people immediately put a shade over it.”'

Seeing clearly

The use of smart glass in buildings has provided building occupants with an improvement in stress reduction, enhanced creativity, as well as an improved sense of well-being. Installing smart glass leads to a reduction in energy usage by not having to account for as much HVAC. A subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, SageGlass has provided their smart glass to over 700 projects worldwide. Alan says, “Our main markets are owner-occupied commercial buildings, schools and health care environments.”

“We’re experiencing an increased demand for our product globally because of the benefits it brings to the building owner and occupant,” explains Alan. “In schools, a connection to the outdoors can improve cognitive function. If you’re a recovering patient in a health care facility, increased comfort and connection to the outdoors leads to faster healing. The fact that our glass is dynamic means it can adapt and transform the built environment.”