Smart windows were the topic of a recent “Everything Building Envelope” podcast during which Paul Beers brought Jeff Riley of View Glass to the studio to find out more about the emerging technology of dynamic glass.

Jeff Riley is a sales executive with View Glass — the first company to mass produce dynamic glass for the building industry — and his infectious enthusiasm was captured in his conversation with Paul, where they discussed the multiple benefits the technology offers the building industry.

“Wow” Factor

The smart windows that View Glass manufactures tint electronically in response to weather and the position of the sun — Jeff calls them “transition lenses.” Each window is programmed to tint just before the sun reaches it, in a range of four tint levels. Tint Level 1 lets in natural daylight, with subsequent levels darkening as light gains intensity. The intelligent software can be programmed remotely or manually.

Architectural design can take advantage of visual access to outdoor views without compromising the comfort of the interior, maximizing the use of glass to dramatic effect. Jeff compares the resulting work environment to everyone having the benefits of the corner office.

Behind Dynamic Glass

An ultra-thin — 5 microns thick — electrochromic coating (the same type of coating used for rearview mirrors for the past 10 years) is the basis for the tinted glass. View Glass outfits the coating with metal oxides that accept an electronic charge, transitioning ions from one side to the other to adjust the tint.

A software system runs the program for the whole operation, with the addition of overrides to increase the ability to respond to weather — a rooftop weather sensor and weather feeds help detect cloud cover. An iPhone app and wall controls allow the system to be operated manually — handy for audio-visual presentations and other office situations.

The glass can be manufactured to fit into any frame, laminated and insulated to double-pane standard. It can also be produced to meet particular specifications, such as hurricane code requirements. Dynamic glass can also be retrofitted into existing buildings with few complications.

Tangible and Intangible Benefits

The electronic responsiveness of the windows to solar gain means savings in energy costs for heating and cooling, and it also eliminates the need for interior blinds. One building in Seattle retrofitted with dynamic glass was found to save 17.7 percent of its energy costs, resulting in $28,000 less in net operating cost (NOI).

Use of space is also optimized, since the environment around the windows can be controlled for comfort — typically interior usable space is limited around windows due to heat gain. Overall increase in comfort creates more attractive work environments, and Jeff points out that this fits with a corporate emphasis on health and wellness. The benefit of natural light is an amenity that every occupant can experience.

Developers engaged in obtaining LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification find dynamic glass is eligible for a “basket of points” in several categories, giving it a broader reach than usual for a single product.

New Standards

The emerging dynamic glass technology of View Glass has quickly established itself in the development of commercial and institutional building, supplying its product to numerous high-profile buildings, including Humber River Hospital in Toronto, the first all-digital hospital in North America, as well as several campuses and major airports.

View Glass backs its product with a 10-year warranty on the glass — the same standards warranty as other high-performance low-E glass — and a five-year warranty on the electronics component. The company also offers options for extended warranties.

Hear more of the discussion between Paul and Jeff about this exciting advance in building technology at the “Everything Building Envelope” website. While you’re there, take a moment to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the enlightening conversations between leading experts on issues in the building industry.