Working in environments with abundant natural light, or when they have a view and connection to the outdoors, can make people perform their jobs or activities better. At the same time, abundant sunlight can adversely affect building occupants as much as it benefits them, with sun control being a significant challenge when designing glass into buildings.
Architects agree that people perform better in buildings with abundant natural light. Controlling the natural light, as well as providing it, is an important design concern, according to a new survey conducted by Hanley Wood, a leading media and information company in the construction industry. The survey was sponsored by Sage, the leading manufacturer of electronically tintable dynamic glass.
More than 99% of the nearly 500 architects surveyed believe people perform their jobs or activities better in buildings when exposed to natural light. Additionally, almost 98% of architects surveyed felt occupants perform better when they have a view and connection to the outdoors.
When uncontrolled, however, abundant sunlight can adversely affect building occupants as much as it benefits them, with problems such as glare, heat gain and fading. That is a reason why more than 93% of architects surveyed also agree that sun control is a significant challenge when designing glass into buildings.
Traditional approaches to controlling sunlight have frustrated architects who love to design with glass. Controls such as mechanized shades, blinds or exterior louvers may block the sun but also limit exposure to daylight and the view to the outdoors, which are the very reasons why windows are designed into building façades. Consequently, only 39% of architects agree that they are satisfied with options for managing solar control today. Furthermore, 17% of architects pointedly indicate that they are not satisfied with conventional sun control options.
The recent research supports the value proposition of new glazing technologies such as dynamic SageGlass®, which electronically tints and clears on demand to tame the sun’s harmful rays without blocking the view to the outdoors.
The survey also found that the use of energy-efficient glass is aligned with a majority of architects’ green design objectives. Approximately two-thirds of architects surveyed said that they typically design buildings with LEED® principles in mind. This viewpoint indicates a growing awareness of sustainable building design practices in the industry over the past 10 years, and bodes well for new glazing technologies that can demonstrate a direct contribution to LEED points and environmental objectives.
“The Hanley Wood study validates the SageGlass value proposition and many of the reasons why SageGlass is gaining momentum in the market,” said Derek Malmquist, vice president of marketing at Sage. “In addition to energy savings and enhancing sustainability, dynamic glass provides architects and glaziers with a product that uniquely solves the problem of solar control. SageGlass can be controlled to let in exactly the right amount of sunlight to maximize building efficiency without ever having to sacrifice natural light or a connection to the outdoors.”
A common misperception in the industry is that dynamic glazing is too expensive for mainstream projects. The survey suggests that attitudes may be changing on this issue. Nearly 75% of architects were positive or neutral about the affordability of new technologies such as dynamic glass, which is a significant departure from earlier industry perceptions (with one in five architects agreeing or strongly agreeing that dynamic glass is affordable compared to other traditional solar control options).
One reason for this attitude shift: dynamic glazing, such as SageGlass, costs the same or less than conventional systems when architects consider the total solution cost. Traditional methods of controlling sunlight quickly add up. With traditional sun controls, architects need to budget for shades/blinds (plus installation and maintenance), exterior sunshades (plus transport and installation), larger HVAC (Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning) systems, increased energy usage, lighting and peak demand electricity charges.
“Electrochromic glass is usually first-cost competitive from a total solution standpoint. With dynamic glass, the architect and glazier need only budget for the glazing, period,” said Malmquist. “In some ways it almost parallels the idea of a smart phone, which now serves as a camera, calendar, email provider, laptop and phone in one. With SageGlass, you do not need additional sun control devices that would have been essential only a few years ago.”
Hanley Wood, LLC, is the premier media and information company serving the housing and commercial design and construction industries. Through its operating platforms, the company produces award-winning magazines and websites, marquee trade shows and events, market intelligence data and custom marketing solutions. The company also is North America’s leading publisher of home plans.
Sage Electrochromics is the world’s leading manufacturer of electronically tintable glass that can be tinted or cleared to optimize daylight and improve the human experience in buildings. SageGlass controls the sunlight and heat that enter a building, significantly reducing energy consumption while improving people’s comfort and wellbeing. SageGlass can reduce a building’s cooling load by 20% and HVAC requirements up to 30%. It is also a smarter, more elegant solution than conventional sun controls such as mechanical window shades, blinds and louvers. The company was founded in 1989 and is headquartered near Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., in the heart of “the Silicon Valley of the window industry.” Sage is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saint-Gobain of Paris, France, the world’s largest building products company.