SAGE Execs Share Their Long Journey to New Green Facility

March 11, 2010

SAGE has a long way to go before its new 250,000-square-foot manufacturing facility is ready for production of its tintable glass products, but not nearly as long as it's taken for the company to get to this point.

The company announced earlier this week that it had received a conditional commitment for a $72 million loan guarantee by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that, coupled with a $31 million Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, would make construction of the new facility possible (CLICK HERE for related story). Mike Kennedy, chief financial officer, explains that SAGE first submitted a preliminary application for the loan guarantee program back in December 2006. Following multiple applications and reviews, the company's final application for the loan guarantee was accepted in December 2008.

"The due diligence process began in March 2009 and was completed in May 2009. This process involved intense third-party reviews of the market and technology, as well as engineering and legal reviews of the HVM project. During the summer of 2009, SAGE negotiated and completed the term sheet. The DOE credit approval was granted in March 2010. Once SAGE accepts the conditional commitment, we anticipate that it will be three months before the loan documentation process will be complete," Kennedy says.

He adds, "On the tax credit side, the rules were issued in September 2009 with a preliminary application due that month. SAGE filed the final application in October 2009, and received notice of the award in January 2010. One fortunate aspect of having applied for the DOE loan guarantee is that the 48C tax credit application was very similar in its requirements, which helped in preparing the relatively lengthy application in such a short timeframe."

With the funding finally approved, company executives are beginning to look toward construction of the new facility. John Van Dine, president and chief executive officer of SAGE, hopes that the company's new facility will reflect its "green" message both inside and out.

"The new SAGE manufacturing plant will have many green features and we hope to attain a LEED Certified Silver or Gold rating," he says.

Among the features that SAGE plans to incorporate into the new facility are:

  • Installation of SageGlass® windows to reduce HVAC equipment size, building electrical usage and electrical peak demand;
  • Overall HVAC and building energy usage to a level 28 percent below industry standards for new buildings;
  • Implementation of daylighting throughout the building with integrated lighting controls and SageGlass® windows;
  • Highly efficient fluorescent and LED lighting with indirect light fixtures, dimmable and addressable ballasts integrated with the daylighting controls, and occupancy sensors;
  • Premium efficient electrical motors with variable speed drives for building utilities and process equipment;
  • Enhanced ventilation and indoor air quality via operable windows, CO2 monitoring and low VOC content materials;
  • Heat recovery systems for both the plant air and water utilized in the manufacturing processes;
  • Water usage reduction by at least 50 percent via low flow fixtures, grey water recycling and natural landscaping;
  • Utilization of local materials, recycled products, FSC-certified wood products and other sustainable materials;
  • A white roof to reduce cooling load and for energy savings; and
  • A light colored polished concrete floor, which requires no chemicals for maintenance and reduces the lighting required in the plant.

SAGE also is investigating in implementing some level of renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and geothermal, and the possibility of utilizing waste heat from a near-by power plant.

In announcing the funding, the DOE cited electrochromic glazings as "the next major advance in energy-efficient window technology" (CLICK HERE to read the DOE news release). According to Van Dine, the new facility will help to overcome some of the hurdles that may be preventing these products from becoming "mainstream" now.

"The higher production volumes made possible by the new facility will bring the cost of the product down dramatically, allowing it to become a mainstream product when the plant is fully operational," says Van Dine. He adds, "Greater capacity will also supply the increasing demand and shorten lead times. The new facility will produce much larger sheets of glass, up to 5 by 10 feet (current size is 60 by 40 inches), which is highly desired by architects and builders."

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
CLICK HERE to subscribe to USGlass magazine.