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Suntuitive automatic color-changing glass technology: bringing comfortable lighting solutions to buildings.

The vice president of Masco Corporation recently sent Thompson IG, LLC, a glass processor in Fenton, Mich., a photo of himself leaning back in his office chair with a big smile on his face. His shades are left open, his southwest corner office is filled with natural light and the temperature is comfortable.

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Thanks to Suntuitive, natural light fills Masco's new global headquarters in Livonia.

"Masco was able to open the curtains for the first time in 28 years, and they took the curtains down," said Mike Kennedy, president of Lindhout Associates Architects, referring to a test installation of Suntuitive self-dimming glass at Masco's former headquarters. Suntuitive is the sunlight-sensing film between the sandwich outer sheets (the side facing the sun) of the insulating glass. This dynamic glass product automatically changes color due to the heat of direct sunlight. Dynamic glass refers to window glass that can change its optical and thermal properties by heat or electric current.

Suntuitive Dynamic Glass appears as a living skin that tints and returns to clear in subtle, infinite gradations as the sun rises and falls throughout the day. Watching this chameleon-like glass dim and brighten without any wires, controls, or external power sources seems magical, but it's all based on the West Michigan company's amazing knowledge of heat-to-color changing technology. Thermochromism is the ability of a substance to change color due to temperature changes. In the case of architectural applications, this corresponds to the infrared rays of the sun.

Suntuitive's technology might seem like rocket science, but you don't have to be a scientist to enjoy the benefits of this self-tinting technology, including glare mitigation, less heat from the sun, and the resulting opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors 24/7. Companies like Masco, as well as many schools, hospitals, and homeowners not only appreciate the product but are embracing this off-grid technology at an astonishing rate as the product itself.

Suntuitive: like the sun is everywhere

Suntuitive self-dimming glass hit the market almost 8 years ago and is now enjoying explosive growth both domestically and internationally. "Over the past two years, we have achieved an excellent performance in international markets," said Thompson IG President Tom Donovan. “Suntuitive, which had markets in just two countries in the early days, is now operating in 25 countries around the world and has more than 450 projects worldwide.” Pleotint produces Suntuitive interlayers at its Jenison facility near Grand Rapids ( PVB film) and currently sells interlayer films to 20 different glass processing plants around the world, including processing plants in Australia, Canada, Singapore, Germany, Lithuania, South Korea, and Bahrain. Donovan said: "No other dynamic glass technology is widely adopted in glass processing plants all over the world." Pleotint owns Thompson IG, which is also the only Suntuitive glass processing plant in the United States, and is responsible for Suntuitive interlayer processing and producing insulating glass. Like the sun, Suntuitive seems to be everywhere. There are Suntuitive from Ann Arbor to Singapore, and from Korea to Toronto. According to Donovan, Suntuitive was the glass of choice for the observation deck of Toronto's iconic CN Tower, making it the world's tallest case of dynamic glass. The world's largest Suntuitive project will be a government building in the Australian community of Geelong, near Melbourne, featuring nearly 30,000 square feet of Suntuitive glass in the Australian building. As Suntuitive's main repeat customer, Children Learning Adventure's high-end children's education centers now use Suntuitive glass in 36 different centers in the United States, including Ohio, Nevada, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Texas.

Back in the home of this Michigan-invented and manufactured product, Flint-based Calvin & Co. glazing contractor has installed Suntuitive glass on several projects in the Great Lakes State, including Fenton's Horizon building and the University of Michigan's Glenn E.

Schembechler Auditorium Football Performance Center, and several projects outside of Michigan. According to Donovan, the University of Michigan's second Suntuitive project is the Richard Postma Clubhouse at the U-M Golf Course, which was provided by the Curtis Glass Company of Troy. "A Michigan-based real estate developer also installed Suntuitive glass in one of its student housing projects in Ann Arbor," Donovan added.

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Through this self-tinting glass, natural light illuminates the grand staircase in Masco's atrium. The many benefits of Suntuitive include bringing in natural light and maintaining the beautiful views of the building while enjoying reduced solar heat, glare, and even improved sound insulation. 

MASCO: Largest Suntuitive Glass Project in the US

For Masco, the Suntuitive story began about a year and a half ago. As a first use of Suntuitive products, Lindhout Associates Architects specified this innovative dynamic glass at Eberspaecher's new factory in Brighton, North America. Following the successful completion of the Eberspaecher building in 2016, Lindhout was eager to bring more light into Masco's new building in Livonia. “We had no trouble explaining to customers the additional benefits of Suntuitive Dynamic Glass over typical insulating glass systems,” says Kennedy.

Masco wanted to experience Suntuitive directly inside its existing Taylor headquarters. Donovan said: "Before Masco decided to put Suntuitive in their new headquarters, Masco asked for a large sample in their existing office. They wanted to feel, see and experience it firsthand." Thompson IG manufactured 10 sets of glass for Masco Taylor's office Components are tested and found the best solution through different configurations, including Low-e glass with different properties, tinted glass matching, and different positions of inner and outer pieces.

In the end, Msaco chose to use a crystal gray outer piece and Guardian triple silver Low-E inner piece. "We tailored the glazing configuration to meet Masco's specific needs," says Donovan. "In this case, we paired Masco with a glass configuration chosen for better performance in the cooler months. At Taylor's 'proving ground', although Thompson IG intentionally installed Suntuitive glass in Masco's most difficult-to-achieve Southwest of shading requirements, the innovative product still passed the test with the highest score. Masco was extremely pleased with the results and decided with confidence to install 18,000 square feet of Suntuitive glass at its new global headquarters in Livonia as the only Exterior glass selection. It started as a test case and later became the largest Suntuitive dynamic glass project in the United States.

Design Inspired by Sunlight

Suntuitive changed the architectural design of the 91,000-square-foot building. “The first considerations for Masco’s new headquarters were unobstructed views and natural light – a building that didn’t need curtains,” said Kennedy. “The original design concept for the new headquarters was to have lanterns to lightly illuminate the offices from within. If there were no Suntuitive’s thermal to color-changing features, none of this was possible. To get the most out of Suntuitive’s glass, Lindhout tilted and changed the orientation of the entire building. “We were able to take advantage of the natural topography of the sidewalk and turn the building into a the main axis of the glass points 30 degrees westward without the typical solar gain problems associated with west-facing glass. Natural light can then penetrate the center of the building and pass through the glass facades of the offices along the perimeter of the building. "Thanks to Suntuitive glass, Lindhout was able to introduce more glass on the exterior of the building as well as throughout the interior. "Suntuitive glass allowed us to use a common design detail for all three cases, east, south, and west, to maximize the Lighting glass area. Suntuitive balances daylighting between shaded or indirect-lit glass facades and sun-filled or direct-lit surfaces. Not only did Suntuitive's ability to bring in natural light while reducing heat or glare eliminated the need for curtains, but it also inspired Masco to request a pure glass office facade instead of the originally specified plasterboard. "They wanted natural light from One side of the building to flow to the other. "Even though this request was made during the building's interior construction, Lindhout Associates and Pontiac-based construction manager George W. Auch Company brought together their expertise to bring this light-filled building to life for Masco.

Suntuitive's Sustainability Synergies

Today, Masco enjoys cozy warmth, beautiful landscaping, and spaces that radiate natural light. When the George W. Auch Company completed the construction of the building in June 2017, Masco began to enjoy the full benefits of this cutting-edge thermochromic technology. For Masco, stuffy days at the office during summer heat waves are a thing of the past. Danese said, "The building has a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.25 in moderate daylight and outside temperatures, but when the glass is fully tinted in the intense summer sun, the solar heat gain coefficient drops to 0.12." Less solar heat enters the building, and people feel comfortable indoors during the hottest hours of the day. This innovative interlayer enhances the sustainability of other building systems, in particular enabling the ability to downsize air conditioning systems for new buildings. Kennedy often visits the Masco factory, and according to Danese, when Kennedy was asked during a recent roadshow how he would design the building differently, he replied, "I reduced cooling by 20 percent."

Kennedy added: "With Suntuitive, peak cooling loads are eliminated, saving energy and reducing the size of the required air conditioning system. During the day, artificial lighting can also be significantly reduced." As more architects, contractors, and Owners understand and experience Suntuitive glass, its synergy with other sustainability products will continue to grow.

“I believe Suntuitive Dynamic Glass is the top tier of glazing in buildings today combined with all the other sustainable products,” Danese said. “It also contributes to many different sub-categories of LEED, depending on the project. Some buildings may be able to jump from LEED Silver to Gold ratings simply by using Suntuitive.” Suntuitive Dynamic Glass can help building projects achieve LEED v.4 certifications, earning points in seven different areas. The seven domains range from thermal comfort, daylight and quality landscaping, acoustic performance, interior lighting, and architectural innovation, among others. As the highest credit rating, Suntuitive can contribute 18 LEED points for optimizing energy performance in the Energy and Atmosphere category. Suntuitive also helps projects achieve higher Building Research Enterprise Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) scores, earning points in six different areas.

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Masco's new headquarters is designed as a lantern that gently illuminates the office from within. Unique LED fixtures can be programmed to display various colors.

Masco also appreciates the enhanced sound insulation of the Suntuitive glass. "Suntuitive's sandwich structure improves the sound insulation value," says Danese. "Generally, the sound insulation value (STC) of insulating glass is 30, but when using Suntuitive, the sound insulation value will be increased to around 39." Compared with insulating glass, Suntuitive interlayer reduces light distortion and increases safety," Kennedy added." It can also be used in sloping glass windows and skylight locations, also preventing sun damage to interior decoration and furniture.

"Suntuitive can block up to 99% of harmful UV rays. From thermal comfort to UV protection, Suntuitive glass meets Masco's highest performance specification levels." Suntuitive has met and exceeded Masco's expectations. ’ Donovan said, ‘Masco is very happy. " 

More better natural lighting

Donovan believes the core advantage of Suntuitive glass is its ability to enhance productivity in offices, learning in schools, and rehabilitation in hospitals. Suntuitive glass meets Masco's desire to "provide a workspace that best suits its employees," Donovan said. "Providing a comfortable environment for employees can help increase office productivity, with research showing that productivity can increase by six percent in environments with the right amount of natural light.

"Over the 30-year lifespan of a building, the largest cost in a corporate setting is employee salaries," continued Donovan. "Over 30 years, that's more than building costs, and studies show productivity costs are 112 times energy costs."

Studies in school and healthcare settings have shown similar positive effects on building occupants. "Kids learn 20 to 26 percent faster in schools with appropriate natural lighting," Donovan said. "Test scores dropped by 17 percent in classrooms with no windows and no outdoor activities. Patients in well-lit hospitals spent up to 20 percent less time recovering in the hospital. Patients who enjoyed more sunlight experienced less pain, Taking 22% less pain medication. All these benefits apply to the home as well." Suntuitive Dynamic Glass is a technology that cultivates all these life-giving benefits. Even more, fortunately, Suntuitive glass is produced and installed on a construction site in the same way as conventional glass, and there is no need to relearn to use Suntuitive technology. "From an installation point of view, Suntuitive is easy to use and it is produced the same as any other laminated glass product. "Because of its convenience and simplicity, we can easily integrate Suntuitive Glass into each country's local supply chain," said Donovan. We complement the entire supply chain, which is what makes us the most used dynamic glass in the world. "

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By installing Suntuitive in every window, Masco enjoys a comfortable temperature and natural light throughout the facility, including this intimate nook in the building's atrium with a small waterfall and infinity pool.

Suntuitive is also a magic weapon for many building properties and users. The range of applications and the number of customers for this award-winning dynamic glass are constantly increasing. The Elaine Jacobs Gallery at Wayne State University has installed Suntuitive glass, allowing the gallery to display expensive and original artwork in an area once inaccessible due to potential UV damage. Suntuitive has been installed in 14 Sheetz high-end convenience stores and gas stations in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The answer to Biotian and Thompson IG's brand question, "Are you ready to let more sunshine in?" is a resounding "yes."

By: Mary Kremposky McArdle, Associate Editor, GAM Magazine 

American GAM magazine authorized to publish

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