It’s instructive how material science continues to reinvent what’s possible in the built environment. Think of how advances in lighting, cladding, steel, concrete, and so many other materials have transformed design, installation, sustainability, wellness, safety, and occupant comfort.
To that parade of innovation, it’s time to add one more: dynamic glass.
It’s fair to say the category scarcely resembles the one of five years ago. The new $455 million, 850,000-square-foot Wells Fargo regional headquarters building in Irving, Texas, is a prime example. Dallas-based architect Corgan specified over 186,000 square feet of dynamic glass, making this one of the largest single-dynamic glass projects in the U.S.
“Wells Fargo’s biggest sustainability goal on this project is net positive energy. The two-tower facility will produce more energy than it uses,” explains Nathan DeVore, vice president and commercial markets and project lead at Corgan, says. “Wells Fargo is committed to sustainability. Dynamic glass creates a better environment for their employees, opening more interior space to natural light. Plus, they were aware of tax incentive programs they could apply to this project.”
In Philadelphia, Gensler specified over 77,000 square feet of dynamic glass for the 417,000-square-foot, 14-story 3151 Market project. The new life sciences center is a core component of the $3.5 billion Schuylkill Yards master-planned community. Other recent projects include a new Google campus (200,000 SF of dynamic glass), the IQHQ Research and Development District (150,000 square feet), and the Millennium smart office building (50,000 square feet).
Today, dynamic glass is specified across a wide array of property types, including hospitality, office, cultural institutions, health and life sciences, higher education, retail, and more than a third of the top 50 U.S. airports.
What Has Changed?
Why the big project, big name embrace of dynamic glass? Jordan Doria has some theories.
The Marketing and Product Management Director of U.S.-based SageGlass has a global perspective on how dynamic glass–also called smart glass or smart windows–has recently gained greater acceptance by top architects on larger projects.
“Dynamic glass technology is no longer a niche consideration. Architects always saw the value of automated tinting for light and heat control, but earlier generations of dynamic glass had trade-offs they didn’t like,” Doria explains. “Advances in the technology in terms of both aesthetics and performance have eliminated these trade-offs, paving the way for greater adoption.”
One example of breakthrough innovation is gradient tinting. Doria says the ability to tint on a gradient, top to bottom or bottom to top, allows glare control while expanding daylight, preserving interior color fidelity, and regulating temperature. “Earlier generations of dynamic glass could only tint the full pane, sacrificing daylight and color rendering for glare control,” Doria adds. “With SageGlass Harmony’s in-pane gradient tinting this is no longer the case.”
Corgan’s DeVore says gradient tinting automatically adjusts itself for the season, day, hour, and minute. “It constantly changes,” he says. “It allows for more daylight harvesting while reducing glare. That’s especially important on the southern façade during winter months.”
Doria says there are at least two other reasons for a growing shift toward dynamic glass:
• New exterior aesthetics. A brighter and more vibrant coating called ST Bright Silver from Saint-Gobain is now available with SageGlass Harmony, according to Doria. “SageGlass Harmony with Bright Silver has been selected on all of our large projects in North America,” she says.
“Dynamic glass without Bright Silver looks really dark from the outside once it goes into full tint mode,” DeVore reports. “Bright Silver adds more reflectivity. The building appears brighter, not as dark.”
• New affordability. The Inflation Reduction Act added dynamic glass to the Investment Tax Credit, allowing owners, including tax-exempt entities, to claim a credit or rebate from 30-50% on costs associated with dynamic glass. This aligns dynamic glass with traditional glazing and shading solutions. “The hefty tax savings changes the question from ‘Why dynamic glass?’ to ‘Why not?’,” Doria observes.
Doria understands why some designers may still believe dynamic glass limits aesthetics. “It’s true other dynamic glass makers don’t have the same options. There is a lot more differentiation than there was just five years ago,” Doria reports.
“Next-gen dynamic glass is a good news story for architects and owners looking to offer a significant value-added dimension to their property,” Doria affirms. “It’s a striking design differentiator occupants love.”
Learn more how next-gen dynamic glass from SageGlass enhances comfort, clarity, and aesthetics without compromise.