Minnesota, USA

Fairview Ridges Hospital maximizes natural light and energy efficiency with SageGlass® dynamic glass.

Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville, Minnesota, is using electronically tintable SageGlass, a product of Saint-Gobain, to optimize natural light and create a stunning visual impact as part of a major expansion project. Fairview Ridges Hospital is a 150-bed, Level III Trauma Care facility, offering the most advanced emergency, surgery, orthopedic and children’s care available in the Twin Cities.

Architects at BWBR designed a two-story atrium with SageGlass to serve as a new sunlit lobby and gathering space at the hospital. But the all-glass enclosure with south, west and east-facing walls presented a serious sun control and energy usage problem in terms of glare and solar heat gain.

“We wanted to make a big impact with a design that provided abundant natural light and served as the marquee architectural feature of the hospital,” said Dustin Rehkamp, project architect at BWBR. “The ideal system would allow us to maximize the sun in the winter but provide adequate shade in the summer for optimal energy use. We found that conventional sun control techniques would be costly and self-defeating.”

BWBR ran numerous heat gain and cost analysis calculations using various glazing, sun shades, blinds, louvers and other controls. They found that they would not only be expensive, but would negate the benefits of glass, such as passive solar heating, natural lighting and preserving the outdoor views. “To have this beautiful all-glass enclosure and have the shades pulled down half the year would negate the aesthetics, warmth and comfort of this marquee facility,” Rehkamp said.

Cleanliness and maintenance was another reason for choosing SageGlass, said Brian Knapp, vice president of operations at Fairview Ridges Hospital. “We need to maintain a clean environment in the hospital. It quickly became apparent that cleaning expansive 30-foot-high walls of mechanical shades would simply be impractical, not to mention expensive to maintain,” he said. “After running the cost analyses, we determined that electrochromic glass would be a cost-effective solution.”

SageGlass is advanced dynamic glass that maximizes daylight and outdoor views in buildings while controlling glare and heat gain. It will create a more comfortable indoor environment for hospital staff and visitors, particularly those working at the reception desk who would otherwise be subject to the sun’s glare.

SageGlass changes tint automatically throughout the day based on light sensors and the sun’s movement. The three-sided SageGlass curtain wall is divided into six zones – four on the south wall and one on each of the east and west walls. The system also includes a manual tinting control to provide flexibility to the owner.

Dynamic glass continues to gain momentum in the healthcare market due to the unique ability to control glare and heat while still preserving natural daylight and a view outdoors. “Healthcare is one of our fastest growing segments,” said Derek Malmquist, SageGlass vice president of marketing. “Many healthcare facilities are embracing sunlight and open designs because natural daylight is good for patient outcomes. SageGlass is an excellent fit because it can be seamlessly integrated into the building façade while providing the solar control that is required.” 

After running the cost analyses, we determined that electrochromic glass would be a cost-effective solution.
Dustin Rehkamp, Project Architect