Millions Going for Space-Age Windows

If energy-saving construction were a poker game, the Department of Energy made a large bet March 5 by offering a conditional commitment for a $72 million loan guarantee to SAGE Electrochromics Inc. of Faribault, Minn.

On March 5, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced his department has offered a conditional commitment for a $72 million loan guarantee so SAGE Electrochromics Inc. of Faribault, Minn., can build and operate a 250,000-square-foot plant to produce SageGlassĀ®, an energy-saving window technology for commercial and residential use. The plant will bring 160 jobs to Faribault and will be built beside privately held SAGE's existing production facility; comments from the company and Minnesota politicians, including Faribault's major, suggested the funding was crucial to keeping SAGE's jobs in their state.

SAGE's announcement of the $72 million guarantee noted the company also was awarded a $31 million Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit earlier this year, meaning the company has secured more than $100 million in federal money. "These funds," according to the announcement, "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."

Chu said the government's investment "will help cut utility bills, reduce carbon pollution, and create jobs our economy needs. It's a perfect example of the power of American innovation to create a stronger economy and a healthier planet."

SageGlassĀ® admits natural light but blocks unwanted solar heat and glare. The technology, producing what are called electrochromic glazings, is a series of thin ceramic material layers deposited onto sheets of glass. Users can turn a switch and use low-voltage electrical current to change the window from clear to highly tinted. This can lower lighting costs and prevent energy loss that occurs through conventional windows, according to the company.

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