Offering benefits such as increased control of interior lighting quality and daylighting, the reduction of unwanted solar heat gain, and improved energy efficiency, smart glass has been under development for decades. One of the most dramatic breakthroughs in glazing technology since humans started melting sand 5,000 years ago, smart glass transforms glass from a passive technology to an active one, allowing buildings’ glass surfaces to be integrated into smart building systems and reducing energy consumption in buildings. As smart glass vendors increase their manufacturing and sales capacities, the market for smart glass will grow. In our report, “Smart Glass,” Pike Research forecasts that the demand for smart glass will reach $693 million by 2020, growing at a combined annual growth rate of over 30% between 2012 and 2020.
Smart Glass Market Value, World Markets: 2012-2020
(Source: Pike Research)
In the last year, two of the major smart glass manufacturers, View and Sage Electrochromics, have undergone major expansions, positioning the industry as a whole for significant growth over the next few years.
View (formerly known as Soladigm) announced at Greenbuild in San Francisco in November that its dynamic glass product is now commercially available. Established in 2007, the company has focused on developing technology as well as ramping up its manufacturing capacity over the last few years with a cumulative $125 million in venture capital financing. View recently completed construction of its $130 million manufacturing facility in Mississippi, which will employ over 300 workers when in full operation.
Sage Electrochromics has also been ramping up its commercial operations over the last year. Although the company has been in operation since 1989, it focused on a range of other technologies before releasing its primary product, SageGlass, in the early 2000s. In 2012 it made two major announcements. The first was that Saint-Gobain, a major materials manufacturer based in France with annual revenues of €42 billion ($55 billion), wholly acquired Sage 2 years after making a strategic investment of $80 million in the company in 2010. The purchase secures Sage with reliable growth capital in the coming years as well as access to Saint-Gobain’s international sales channels. In addition, Sage announced that its 324,000 SF manufacturing facility in Minnesota was in the final construction phases, expanding beyond its existing 60,000 SF facility next door.
Sage’s founder and CEO John van Dine, whom I spoke with recently, says his firm’s major strides over the last year are due to growing awareness of green building technology as well as other factors. “The emphasis on sustainable technologies and energy efficiency over the past few years has been extremely helpful in generating interest,” he said. “Given the increased adoption of sophisticated building energy management systems and the opening of a high volume manufacturing plant that will result in additional cost efficiencies, we anticipate a continuing expansion of the electrochromic glass market beyond early adopters into a mainstream product for commercial architects and the construction industry.”