Colorado State University tames the sun and aims for LEED Silver with dynamic glass in all-glass “Energy Chamber”

Achieving LEED® certification in an all-glass building is challenging due to the thermal and comfort liabilities of glass.

When Colorado State University asked architectural firm Studiotrope to design a sleek, modern glass cube to serve as a new student study space for its Morgan Library expansion, it also required that the building achieve a minimum of LEED Silver accreditation.

Studiotrope employed a variety of high-tech glazing technologies to achieve that goal, including dynamic SageGlass® from SAGE. SageGlass is electronically tintable dynamic glass that maximizes daylight and outdoor views in buildings while controlling glare and heat gain. The glass can darken or clear on-demand or automatically using light sensors to help keep building occupants continuously comfortable throughout the day. Studiotrope used SageGlass to tame the unforgiving western exposure in Morgan Library.

“In Colorado, the western sun is extremely harsh late in the day making the glare and solar heat gain on the west facade very hard to mitigate,” said Matt Edmonds, project manager at Studiotrope. “SageGlass does a fantastic job of solving the direct western solar exposure issues.”

SageGlass is installed in the entire two-story 24 ft by 45 ft western curtain wall of the building, including several operable windows and an egress door. The glass on the upper and lower floors is zoned and can be controlled separately and activated by exterior light sensors. The glass can also be manually controlled for events, movies and other activities that require additional room darkening or lightening.

Morgan Library is a focal point of the CSU campus. As such, preserving the transparency of a glass building was a key design objective for the project. Coined the “Energy Chamber,” the university wanted the addition to showcase sustainability and efficiency while also reflecting the virtues of an open and safe campus.

Student comfort was also a critical factor in the Morgan Library design. The addition needed to provide a comfortable, quiet study space as well as an environment that fostered collaborative research and learning. For example, the commons area includes a digital production studio for students and faculty to create high quality original digital content. In order for the addition to be successful, and host student activities, the all-glass building required effective solar glare control.

Edmonds of Studiotrope evaluated a number of alternative sun shading options including shades, louvers and a thermochromic glazing product that changes tint based on temperature. “Daylighting analysis showed that an extremely dense vertical shade solution would be needed to control the western sun, which would have negated the openness and transparency objectives of the design. We considered other technologies such as thermochromic glass, but were not satisfied with their aesthetic characteristics. SageGlass ended up being both the most effective and most elegant solution.”

About SAGE Electrochromics, Inc.

SAGE Electrochromics is the world’s leading manufacturer of electronically tintable glass that can be tinted or cleared to optimize daylight and improve the human experience in buildings. SageGlass controls the sunlight and heat that enter a building, significantly reducing energy consumption while improving people’s comfort and well-being. SageGlass can reduce a building’s cooling load by 20% and HVAC requirements up to 30%. It is also a smarter, more elegant solution than conventional sun controls such as mechanical window shades, blinds and louvers. The company was founded in 1989 and is headquartered near Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., in the heart of “the Silicon Valley of the window industry.” SAGE is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saint-Gobain of Paris, France, the world's largest building products company.

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600450 Colorado State University tames the sun and aims for LEED Silver with dynamic glass in all-glass “Energy Chamber”
Date: 2 July 2012

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