Last December I opened my presentation at The Glass Supper by running, jumping and back-flipping my way around iconic glass structures in London (check it out here!) Despite this amazing agility (most of it by my stunt double), it’s been more than 28 years since I graduated from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. During the seven years I spent in the Pure and Applied Chemistry Department, the seeds of the person I would subsequently become were being planted and nurtured. I owe so much more than I can articulate to the University, the Department, the academic staff and my fellow students.
When I learned that the Department was considering installing SageGlass, I nearly back-flipped for real (without the need for my stunt double). Therefore when the project was completed earlier this summer, I thought why not give this special installation a personal SageGlass touch by going back to the University for the first time since graduating in 1990.
And, that’s exactly what I did!
I returned to Strathclyde to experience the product that I now devote my every waking moment to. It was great to see and feel SageGlass in the very building in which my early life and career were built. The opportunity to experience our amazing, cool product back in this formative environment was an incredible mix of emotions: nostalgia, pride, excitement and nervousness.
I left this place as a working-class kid filled with hopes and dreams for my future, and I was returning as the CEO of a company that developed the world’s most advanced glazing product.
Glasgow is a beautiful, charismatic city and the vista overlooking the city center as seen from the Thomas Graham building is the best view on campus. SageGlass enables students and staff to concentrate better by connecting them to the outdoors without the distraction of too much heat or glare while maintaining a constant view and connection to the outside world.
The installation of SageGlass in the Graham building is a retrofit. Staff and students experiencing SageGlass over the past few months told me that prior to the SageGlass installation, the space was in high demand because of its outstanding views overlooking the city; but, due to Scotland’s highly unpredictable weather, meetings were often interrupted by the need to open or close blinds to ensure screens could be seen without glare, causing the space to feel like a basement with the blinds closed. This left users of the space with the following options: blinds down and no view or blinds up and screens covered in glare.
As a result of SageGlass, installed by local glazing contractor Morris & Spottiswood, occupants now have unobstructed views of Glasgow, even when viewing screens on bright sunny days. Our installation is controlled via the SageGlass app which was specifically configured with room and zone names to allow users to control and change the SageGlass tint to meet their specific needs. Additionally, our automated sensors and control panels were connected to the University’s network to ensure automated control over the tint levels to create the constant optimal daylight environment conducive to occupant comfort and wellbeing.
My time at University was spent in lecture theatres and labs with very little connection to the outdoors, very little natural light and hardly any views. Therefore, it was genuinely exciting that my old school was now taking a lead on creating spaces which are steeped in history while using the latest technology to enhance the occupant experience and maintain views and connection to the outdoors. Having devoted the last five years to SageGlass, spending most of my days in spaces and buildings equipped with it, it was hard to remember what it must have been like to learn and study in a place with little access to natural daylighting and outdoor views.
“We were delighted to welcome Alan back to campus,” said Professor Duncan Graham, Head of Department. “As one of the UK’s top 20 research-intensive universities we are known for our close links with business and industry, bringing people together to find solutions to challenges. It’s an ethos that is shared by Strathclyde alumni all over the world – and that’s absolutely true of Alan. He and the Saint-Gobain/SageGlass team have developed a technology that makes a real difference in every-day life, and we’re very pleased to be putting it to good use here in Glasgow.”
It has been independently proven that students’ progress through curricula 20 to 26 percent faster when learning in daylight environments, and spaces with natural daylight are more conducive to cognitive thinking. SageGlass has been installed in academic environments around the world – each one contributing to an enhanced academic experience, but I am particularly pleased to know that our product has been used in the department of the university that gave me so much.