Dynamic Glass

The material is dramatic, sustainable, and bridges the interior of a building to its environment.

Dynamic glass, which tints electronically in response to outside conditions, is proving itself superior to static glass. With the intelligence to provide optimum natural light and comfort regardless of exterior conditions or time of year, dynamic glass has far-reaching implications for building design, ongoing building performance, and occupant experience.

Windows are commonly regarded as one of the least energy-efficient building components, responsible for up to 40 percent of the total heating, cooling, and lighting consumption. By making fenestration a responsive façade solution for solar control, dynamic glass has become a key component of high-performing buildings.

What Is It?
Dynamic glass switches between clear and tinted states on demand, providing glare and heat control while offering continuously unobstructed views. The system can function autonomously or be controlled on demand, enabling a user to tint or clear the glass according to preference. In automated mode, the system will automatically tint or clear the glass, adapting to environmental conditions.

The technology allows for control of individual windows or coordinated groups of windows. With a grouping capability, zones can be created to tailor the behavior of the glass for spaces with different uses or even within a single façade for optimal daylighting. For example, in a curtain wall design, the top course of vision glass could be set to 20 percent, admitting light for daylighting purposes, while the remaining eye-level glass can be set for a darker tint to decrease glare.

While the glass provides the tint, the system makes it intelligent. Predictive intelligence foresees the sun's movement and automatically adjusts each window's tint to anticipate the sun's solar load. The same intelligence then adjusts the tint level according to location, space type, weather, and user preference. Each window has local intelligence and knows its unique position, orientation, and condition. As a result, the intelligence function seamlessly manages direct glare on occupants while maintaining the intended views.

A focus on simplification and performance has driven a major rethinking of the dynamic glass electronic system architecture. In many cases, traditional complex wiring approaches have been replaced by a single line or cable, similar to a LAN network, to facilitate routing and reduce install complexity. Factory pre-terminated wiring with threaded connectors cuts labor time and adds to long-term reliability. Window control has been moved to intelligent nodes close to the window to optimize tint uniformity and allow maximum zone control flexibility, user control, and ease of future reconfiguration. Intelligence at each point, from the insulated glass unit (IGU) back to the user interface, facilitates maximum user flexibility and central or individual control.

Due to its interactive nature, dynamic glass reduces overall HVAC energy consumption and costs by limiting unwanted heat gain in summer but allowing beneficial passive heat gain in winter. Intermediate states convey additional benefits by saving lighting energy, thus allowing for optimal daylighting.

Dynamic glass can also contribute to operations savings in other ways, including reduction of fading in interior furnishings and fixtures. Daylight brings in UV radiation which causes fading. When tinted, dynamic glass blocks more than 99 percent of UV rays, increasing the service life of the equipment inside the building.

In addition to improved daylighting and thermal comfort, dynamic glass allows occupants unobstructed views even in the tinted state, a key to a host of benefits. Dynamic glass is consistent with biophilic design, which seeks to connect humans with the natural environment. The premise is based on the philosophy of biophilia, the apparent instinctive preference humans have for natural geometries, forms, and characteristics within our environments.