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Donna-Rio Bravo Port of Entry improves border security with enhanced sun control

SageGlass provides port officers with unobstructed views while saving energy

May. 1, 2014

The Donna-Rio Bravo U.S. Land Port of Entry is using SageGlass®, a product of Saint-Gobain, to help border patrol agents better protect the country in the glaring sun and heat of the Texas-Mexico border.

The building serves as the checkpoint and inspection facility for civilian traffic crossing the Rio Grande into and from Mexico via the Alliance International Bridge. Consequently, port officers need maximum visibility and unobstructed views at all angles throughout the day and in any weather condition to do their jobs. But when originally constructed, officers manning the inspection booths and adjacent command center were hindered in their duty by the glare of the intense southwest-facing sun.

Catamount Constructors, in conjunction with their design-build partner CTA Architects Engineers, was hired to resolve some on-going issues with visibility and better climate control for the existing booths and command center.

“It wasn’t an ideal situation. They had to resort to installing blinds or donning sunglasses and visors, which compromised their outdoor view,” said architect Brad Thigpen, who worked with Catamount Constructors in a test case glazing upgrade of the facility.

Retrofitting the windows with SageGlass has eliminated the need for these sub-optimal solar control “fixes,” giving agents the clearest possible view of the queue of vehicles. SageGlass maximizes daylight and outdoor views in buildings while controlling glare and heat gain.

Safety is another issue, since the border crossing can be a dangerous place. SageGlass is helping to preserve clean sight lines so officers can maintain visual contact with each other and have unobstructed views of the surrounding area. 

The Donna-Rio Bravo Port of Entry also stands out for its green design. It is the first LEED® Gold certified port of entry in Texas, and was chosen as a Government Services Administration’s (GSA) Green Proving Ground project. The GSA evaluates technologies that reduce energy and save money in federal buildings for Green Proving Ground projects. 

SageGlass is helping to save energy and provide a more comfortable environment for officers and their narcotic detector dogs by controlling the heat gain in the facility. “One of the great features of SageGlass is that the glare and heat gain factors are reduced considerably from what they were experiencing before. We’re getting the dual benefit of solar control and unobstructed views,” said Thigpen. “This installation served as a test case to see if electrochromic glass would meet the officers’ need for glare reduction, energy savings, indoor comfort and other design objectives. It has fulfilled those objectives so far.”

Indeed, the Donna Rio-Bravo project is the latest of several border crossing facility projects that have incorporated SageGlass to solve challenging sun control problems. Other SageGlass installations include the LEED Gold certified Ajo Border Patrol station on the Arizona/Mexico border and the Torrington Port of Entry in Wyoming.

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