One of the most exciting products from this year's Greenbuild expo is SageGlass' solar-powered windows. Sage's electrocromic windows can be darkened and lightened to filter the sun's heat and light according to a room's needs and the inhabitant's desires. See a full explanation of the technology here.
That takes a small amount of energy, which until now, could only come from plugging into a building's existing power supply. The new product is powered with a slim strip of photovoltaic panels. It's not only sustainable that the glass can power itself, but it's also opens up the product's design possibilities because it's cordless.
SageGlass has currently been installed in 250 projects, including both residential and commercial buildings. This glass is often used to fix a design problem. Philadelphia's Kimmel Center is an example of a space where a window dressing isn't feasible, but the space was overheated. Bryan Green of Sage says he hope that architects and designers can start using the glass more creatively.
Another new feature for SageGlass is the introduction of different control zones within the same pane of glass. These different zones can be independently controlled. So, imagine you have a Eastward-facing pane of SageGlass next to your breakfast table. You want lots of light in the room, but you don't want glare on you iPad. You can darken the lower zones to cut down on glare, while keeping the zones more clear to light the room, creating a kind of ombre effect. The zones can be either manually controlled, or automated with timers.
Like the original product, the solar-powered glass remains somewhat clear even at its darkest tint. "If it weren't for people's desire for natural sunlight and a connection to the outdoors, people wouldn't put windows in buildings," said John Van Dine, founder of Sage. In some ways, windows are a the weak point in our structures, at times letting too much heat and light. Shutters and curtains solve the problem of too much light, but they still absorb heat. You might still want a curtain for privacy's sake, but both these methods block the view to the outdoors. "You defeat the purpose of windows in the first place."