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Butler County Health Care Center solves challenging solar control problem with SageGlass in new glass-enclosed wellness center

Apr. 9, 2014

The Butler County Health Care Center in David City, Nebraska, is using SageGlass® dynamic glass in its new wellness center to tame the sun’s glare, create a more comfortable healing environment, and preserve a connection to the outdoors for patients, members and health care staff.

The new wellness center, designed by Visions in Architecture (VIA) architects, features a unique 3,000+ square-foot curved glass curtain wall that extends up to 22 feet high, offering beautiful views of a park and golf course. But the addition was constructed on the south-facing end of the hospital, creating a significant glare and heat problem, particularly in the winter months when the low-angled sun blasted brightly and deeply into the center’s open space.

Fortunately, architect Douglas Elting of VIA employs Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) in his practice, which taps into the expertise of all subcontractors and suppliers early in the design process so that they can collaboratively weigh in on problems and solutions. Glazing contractor Daniel Sutton, president of City Glass Company, realized early on that mechanical shades wouldn’t work well due to the complexity of the curtain wall, which flares out at a 7 degree angle in curved pie-shaped forms.  Shades would also block the beautiful view, while presenting ongoing hygienic and maintenance problems for the hospital due to dust and germ accumulation.

The new wellness center was also a high-profile showcase project in the community. It offered the town a modern health club facility in addition to its advanced therapeutic services. It includes an indoor walking track that circles the wellness center and physical therapy departments, private therapy rooms, and cardiovascular fitness and weight-training equipment to local residents. Preserving the openness and transparency of the glass-enclosed facility was an important marketing feature.

Given the design objectives, Sutton recommended SageGlass to solve the sun control problem. “The architect and building owners didn’t want to create a closed-off mirrored box with reflective glass,” he said. “They wanted to keep the design bright and open so that people could see inside the facility. Electrochromic glass made the most sense for controlling the sun and heat gain without cutting off the wellness center from the community.”  

The dynamic curtain wall is digitally programmed to “follow the sun.” SageGlass is programmed to automatically tint in vertical sections, four glass panes wide, based on the time of day and season in relation to the sun’s angle. Throughout the day people can see the tinting process “magically” move across the façade as the sun moves westward across the horizon.

“Outside, the visual effect is quite dramatic as the tinting moves in concert with the sun. The design conveys a sense of state-of-the-art building technology,” said Elting. “Inside, the glass reacts to the sun and creates a comfortable space without the occupants noticing it.”

Advanced solar control was also critical because optimizing daylight for the occupants is a key design objective for VIA, which specializes in health care design. “Our design solutions are rooted in Evidence Based Design, where decisions are based on the best available research to achieve the best possible patient outcomes. Numerous studies have proven that patients exposed to abundant daylight experience less stress, require less pain medication, have fewer complications, recover faster and display better emotional well-being. SageGlass helped us deliver the therapeutic benefits of natural light without experiencing the adverse characteristics of uncontrolled sun.”

Elting also said that SageGlass provided cost savings benefits through energy efficiency. “We were able to reduce the heating and air conditioning unit requirements by one size, which, together with the elimination of the mechanical shades more than covered the additional cost of the advanced glazing,” he said.

About SageGlass 
SageGlass®, a product of Saint-Gobain, is advanced dynamic glass that can be electronically tinted or cleared to optimize daylight and improve the human experience in buildings. SageGlass manages the sunlight and heat that enter a building, significantly reducing energy consumption while improving people’s comfort and well-being. It can reduce a building’s cooling load by 20% and HVAC requirements up to 30%. It is a smarter, more elegant solution than conventional sun controls such as mechanical window shades, blinds and louvers. With SageGlass you can control sunlight and glare without shades or blinds while maintaining the view and connection to the outdoors. SageGlass is manufactured in Faribault, Minn., in the heart of “the Silicon Valley of the window industry,” and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saint-Gobain of Paris, the world’s largest building materials company.

About Saint-Gobain in North America
Saint-Gobain has its North American headquarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. As the world leader in sustainable habitat, Saint-Gobain is committed to inventing solutions to help professionals and communities around the world build and renovate comfortable, healthy, economical and energy-efficient buildings. The company has more than 250 locations in North America and approximately 15,000 employees. In the United States and Canada, Saint-Gobain reported sales of approximately $6.2 billion in 2014.

Recognized as a 2009 and 2010 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Saint-Gobain earned the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award, the highest level of recognition for outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency. For more information about Saint-Gobain in North America, visit www.saint-gobain-northamerica.com and connect with the company on Facebook and Twitter.       

About Saint-Gobain
In 2015, Saint-Gobain is celebrating its 350th anniversary, 350 reasons to believe in the future. Backed by its experience and its capacity to continuously innovate, Saint-Gobain, the world leader in the habitat and construction market, designs, manufactures and distributes high-performance and building materials providing innovative solutions to the challenges of growth, energy efficiency and environmental protection. With 2014 sales of $54.6 billion, Saint-Gobain operates in 64 countries and has over 180,000 employees. For more information about Saint-Gobain, visit https://www.saint-gobain.com/en and the twitter account @saintgobain