Mercy Corps, a global aid agency, used electronically tintable dynamic glass to help gain LEED® Platinum certification and optimize daylight for its new award-winning headquarters in Portland, Ore.
Mercy Corps, which runs disaster relief and community development efforts in more than 40 countries, aimed to consolidate its headquarters in a building that reflected its sustainability values. The more money it saves in building energy efficiency, the more it can invest in its life-saving efforts around the world.
In refurbishing the historic 19th-century building, the organization incorporated natural daylight as part of the project’s eco-friendly strategies. But since sunlight is a scarce resource in the Pacific Northwest, Mercy Corps wanted a solution that would allow it to harvest every available ray of sunlight. It chose SageGlass®, which maximizes daylight while controlling heat gain. SageGlass can be tinted or cleared on demand, depending on the condition outside or the needs of the building occupants.
SageGlass is typically glazed in to the curtain wall or skylights of a building. In this application, it was installed as an exterior shade at every floor on the south-facing facade, providing critical solar control in the building’s lobby and conference room.
“We get a lot of cloudy days in Oregon, so we didn’t want anything that would keep that light from coming in on sunny days. But when the sun shines, it has the potential to get quite warm inside if left unchecked. SageGlass allows the sun to pour in on cold, sunny days, but darkens to provide shade on hot sunny days,” said Hugh Donnelly, LEED AP and director of administration and facilities at Mercy Corps.
Preventing heat gain without blocking the sun helped enable the project’s architects, THA Architecture, to incorporate operable windows throughout the building and motorized clerestory windows in the atrium. Both SageGlass and the atrium windows are integrated into the building’s energy management system and activate automatically when the temperature changes.
“We wanted to use every available technology that made sense, to create a very energy-efficient building. The exterior skin of the building is crucial to that effort. We made it super-insulated while also providing optimal shading on the exposed areas of the building with the help of SageGlass,” said Laura Klinger, architect at THA Architecture.
The efforts have paid off. The Mercy Corps building delivers 69 percent better energy performance than conventional office buildings, according to a study by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. It has also received a number of design awards including the Carbon Consciousness Award, Best Green Building from McGraw-Hill Construction, and Most Admired Non-Profit Building from Oregon Business Journal.
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.
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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