Advancements in glass and glazing products have recently come at a pretty hectic pace. Innovations that are being created to improve the building performance and the occupant comfort are now available from more sources than ever.
The challenge lies in what technology works best for your specific structure. Making it even tougher is the glass world as a whole is very rarely a “one size fits all” sort of scenario.
For many in the position of building a new structure or doing massive remodels, the start is determining the priorities on what is wanted from the building when all is complete.
One example to look at is the approach that developed on a new building for Masco Corporation. Masco was relocating their global headquarters to Livonia, Michigan and the design featured an amazing three-story atrium that would need something very special glass wise to perform at the levels Masco specified.
“With the direct involvement of our architect (Lindhout & Associates) Masco sought glass technology that provided energy efficiency, glare resistance, sound absorption, and safety. With these priorities, Masco realized we were in quest of an innovative product,” said Lawrence Leaman, Vice President, Tax, Masco Corporation.
The lead architect from Lindout & Associates, Mike Kennedy was no stranger to cutting edge materials. Kennedy is constantly monitoring the building product and glass landscapes to find the right fits for the priorities his clients demand.
“We used a Thermochromic glazing product, Suntuitive® glass (developed & manufactured in Masco’s home state of Michigan by Pleotint) since it eliminates the glare and heat from the sun, preserves views to the outside while minimizing the need for shades, while offering hurricane strength, and meeting sloped glazing requirements. ”
Thermochromic products like Suntuitive glass are in the family of glazings sometimes known as “smart” or “dynamic” glass because of their ability to change with the climate or the needs of the occupant. With Masco’s priorities in mind, Kennedy continued to find that the Suntuitive glass he specified was going to meet those goals.
“The exterior glazing was incorporated in a way that allows natural daylight to gently illuminate the interior of the building during the day time and creating lantern affect in the evening hours where the central glass atrium is the source of light/energy that is diffused as it moves out into the office wings.”
The Pleotint product boasts a simple approach to the smart glass space, offering no wiring or electronics and using the temperature as the trigger to cause the glass to actively change from a clear to dark state. In doing so the glass is basically on call 24/7.
“A key attribute on the energy side is that the glass helps to take the peaks out of your cooling load. It makes the cooling much more even throughout the building; you don’t have spots that are over cooled because another area is getting too much solar heat gain to it,” Kennedy said. “It can now be counted on in determining HVAC loads and efficiencies.”
Newer technology sometimes comes with the worry of past track record. So Masco and the architectural team took a very smart approach to the process.
“To assure the promoted performance met Masco’s expected standards and to ensure sustainability of the product, Masco requested the glass to be installed in an existing office at our current HQ to test over a period covering the previous Fall through Spring. Although some performance issues were identified in January at the peak of the frigid temperatures, Pleotint modified the window and resolved the performance issue,” said Kennedy.
Overall construction is now complete. How have the priorities set by Masco been met so far?
“We have essentially covered the heat of the summer (June through September) and an entire winter with no performance issues pertaining to glare, temperature control, or sound quieting,” added Leaman.
Masco relocated approximately 220 employees to the new 91,220-square-foot facility that features employee amenities such as a 24-hour state-of-the-art fitness center, adjustable workspaces to allow for work while seated or standing, 24/7 fresh food market and a patio for employees to utilize for outdoor work or relaxation. Masco moved to Livonia from Taylor, MI where the company spent nearly 50 years.