The building envelope comprises many parts and relies on their ability to work together in order for it to achieve optimal performance. From solar-powered electrochromic glass that can be controlled via a mobile device to insulation made from mushrooms, these products are designed for high-performing, sustainable shells.

Next-Gen Solar Glass
Electrochromic glass allows building operators to adjust the visible light transmittance and solar heat gain coefficient of window or curtain wall glazing via the building management system to regulate the interior environment. While this type of tinted glass traditionally uses a low-voltage wired connection, Sage Electrochromics has developed a solar-powered, self-contained wireless unit that can be controlled using an iPad. Designed for commercial installations and retrofit projects that may be difficult to wire, the dynamic glass is powered by energy generated from a photovoltaic strip at the bottom or on the side of each panel.

Sage Electrochromics

The growth of agribusiness in the Netherlands’ eastern region inspired the 100% bio-based façade on this natural gas receiving station by Rotterdam-based architecture firm Studio Marco Vermeulen. Made from a bio-resin and hemp fiber composite developed by Dutch research firm NPSP Composites, the cladding depicts the chemical composition of natural gas through a series of “H,” “C,” and “N” relief images, which signify carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen. The product’s name, Nabasco, stands for “natural-based composites.”

Studio Marco Vermeulen

Natural Insulation
Why glue your insulation together when you can grow it? That’s the logic behind Ecovative’s Cradle to Cradle Gold-certified Mushroom Materials, which comprise agricultural waste and fungal mycelium—a natural adhesive—in a suite of insulation, packaging, and structural products. Founded in 2007, the manufacturer recently added a fire-resistant, low-VOC foam board insulation alternative. Myco Foam gets its rigid structural insulating properties from the fungal material, which grows and binds to the inside of the wall cavity to provide a continuous layer of insulation and prevent thermal bridging.

Resilient Surfaces
In an effort to emulate the strength and durability inherent to material derived from the metamorphic rock formation process, surfaces maker Cosentino launched its Dekton surfacing material in October. Comprising glass, porcelain, and quartz, the material is exposed to pressure and high heat for a four-hour period. The resulting surface doesn’t fade from UV exposure, has low water absorption, and resists thermal shock, impact, and scratches. The material can be used indoors and outdoors in a range of applications, such as cladding. Available in 14 colors (Strato, shown).


Architectural Ventilation
A partnership between New Haven, Conn.-based door, hatch, and window maker Bilco and the Colt Group, a U.K.-based ventilation products fabricator, is introducing new architectural products to North America. Among Colt’s lineup, the Firelight ventilation system (shown) is designed for use on commercial rooftops including atriums and is offered with polycarbonate, glazed glass, or infill panels and an aluminum frame. Double- or single-flap models, and a noise-reduction panel are available.

Colt Group

  This post has been updated from its original publication to include a photo of Cosentino's Dekton used as cladding.