SAGE Electrochromics, Inc., has been offered a conditional commitment for a $72 million loan guarantee by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the DOE announced earlier today. Coupled with the $31 million Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit SAGE was awarded earlier this year, the company has now secured over $100 million in federal funding.
These funds will help SAGE establish a facility for the manufacture of energy-saving electronically tintable glass, which will make buildings more energy efficient and will create hundreds of new green manufacturing and construction jobs.
SAGE will transform the way buildings use energy by mass producing a revolutionary new kind of dynamic glass that can change from a clear state to a tinted state at the push of a button. Windows using SageGlass® technology control the amount of sunlight that enters a building, significantly reducing energy consumed for air conditioning, heating and lighting. The company will tap the DOE funding to build a high-volume manufacturing plant next to its headquarters in Faribault, Minn., ramping up production for commercial, institutional and residential applications.
The 250,000-square-foot facility is expected to add 160 full-time green manufacturing and technology jobs to the 100 jobs in SAGE’s current plant in southern Minnesota. More than 200 construction jobs will also be created. A study by Deloitte Consulting concluded the plant will add a total of nearly 400 permanent jobs to the area’s economy. Groundbreaking is scheduled for summer of 2010, and the plant will be shipping its SageGlass product in the latter part of 2011.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the conditional loan guarantee commitment for SAGE, which was granted under the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program. Established under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Loan Guarantee Program supports innovative technologies that reduce or sequester greenhouse gases.
According to previously published commentary from Secretary Chu, “The biggest gains, in terms of decreasing the country’s energy bill, the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere, and our dependency on foreign oil, will come from energy efficiency and conservation in the next 20 years. Make no doubt about it. That’s where everybody who has really thought about the problem thinks the biggest gains can be and should be.”
SAGE CEO and founder John Van Dine said, “The company’s electronically tintable glass is a prime example of these energy efficiency technologies. Our technology is a game changer for the building industry,” he said. “With this funding, SAGE will now have the scale and capacity to bring this remarkable technology to the market in high volume. These revolutionary windows will have a significant impact on reducing the nation’s energy consumption. We thank the Obama administration, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and the DOE for this tremendous validation, and for the funding necessary to construct this high-volume facility.”
After an extensive national search, SAGE chose to expand in Faribault, thanks to the support of U.S. Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, Governor Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota State Representative Patti Fritz, former Minnesota State Senator Richard Day and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Support from several members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation, including Congressmen John Kline, Tim Walz, and Jim Oberstar and Congresswoman Betty McCollum, was also critical to the site decision.
“SAGE is the kind of company that makes Minnesota proud,” said Sen. Al Franken. “They're ahead of the rest of the world technologically, they use University of Minnesota-trained researchers and scientists, and they're one of the reasons Minnesota is the Silicon Valley of windows. This was one of the first places I went to promote green jobs and I've been personally engaged in their success ever since. I was proud to go to bat for them and I'm delighted that everyone's hard work paid off. SAGE is a great company, a great employer, and I'm glad they're expanding here in Minnesota.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar said the SAGE investment is critical to advancing Minnesota’s green technology industry. “I am thrilled SAGE has chosen to stay in Minnesota and to expand its facility. I know how valuable SAGE is, not only to the people of Faribault but to all of Minnesota – especially in this economy. The expansion of SAGE will create up to 160 jobs, but not just any jobs. These are skilled technology jobs, the kind of jobs for which Minnesotans are uniquely qualified. I have been a champion of SAGE from the beginning and can’t wait to see a new building rising in Faribault,” she said.
SAGE has developed the world’s only commercially available, electronically tintable glass for use in buildings. It uses nanotechnology to create eco-friendly dynamic windows that change tint to regulate sunlight, similar to the way transition lenses work in sunglasses. Windows using SageGlass technology, however, are controlled electronically; they can be switched from clear to darkly tinted at the click of a button, or programmed to respond to changing sunlight and heat conditions. The technology not only provides dramatic energy savings, it also enhances occupant comfort and productivity by preserving their connection to the outdoors – the very reason windows are put in a building.
SageGlass windows are installed in hundreds of buildings worldwide, including commercial, institutional and high-end residential applications.
The DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), which has been evaluating SAGE’s products for more than a decade, considers electrochromic glazing to be the next major advance in energy-efficient technology, helping to transform windows from an energy liability in buildings to an energy source. The potential for energy savings is significant since energy loss through windows accounts for about 30% of heating and cooling energy.
According to LBNL, SageGlass windows have the potential to reduce building heating and air conditioning equipment requirements by up to 25%, resulting in major construction and maintenance cost savings. LBNL also estimates that SageGlass products will reduce cooling loads by up to 20%, lower peak power demand by as much as 26%, and reduce lighting costs by up to 60%. National Renewable Energy Laboratory research scientist Dane Gillaspie said that widespread use of smart window technologies like SAGE’s “could save about one-eighth of all the energy used by buildings in the U.S. every year, equivalent to about five percent of the nation's total energy budget."
In addition to the new DOE support, SAGE has received over $45 million in investment financing over the past three years. Investors include Good Energies, a leading global investor in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries, Applied Ventures, LLC, and NV Bekaert SA.