LEED Certification With No Compromise

Slowly but surely, electrochromic glass is making its way into the green building world, particularly the variety known as SageGlass. From a historic Vermont art gallery to the green remodel of an old Virginia church, we’ve seen this glass — which tints to block the sun’s rays at the touch of a button, or based on a preset program — featured in some prominent projects, and now, in Chabot College’s Community and Student Services Center in Hayward, California.

With engineering design by Thornton Thomasetti, Chabot College’s latest LEED-Platinum-certified building features a number of unique eco-features, including radiant heating and cooling in the double-height atrium’s concrete slab;  roof and ceiling air scoops to provide natural ventilation; and a rooftop weather station linked to the mechanical HVAC system, which allows the system to adjust its settings based on exterior conditions. And, of course, that very cool glass in the building’s atrium, which changes color in response to changing sunlight and temperature conditions to optimize daylighting and energy efficiency.

Chabot College Community and Student Services Center

image via Sageglass

SageGlass reports that the architects behind this project at tBP /Architecture wanted to incorporate as much glass as possible into the building to flood the interior with daylight and keep a connection to the outdoors, but had designed the structure with an atrium that included a two-story, 2,900-square-foot south and west facing curtain wall, which posed “significant glare and heat control challenges” from the sun.

And while more traditional solutions, such as conventional low-e glazing, automated interior blinds and automated exterior louvers would have managed these challenges, they also would have obstructed outside views and “compromised building aesthetics.” The electrochomic glass solution allowed the architects to reach their LEED goals for the building while maintaining aesthetics (and keeping everyone comfortable in the building too).

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.