Sage Receives DOE Funding to Expand Operations

March 9, 2010

Sage Electrochromics Inc. plans to build a high-volume manufacturing operation for its electronically tintable glass at its headquarters in Fairibault, Minn., thanks in part to more than $100 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.  DOE announced a conditional commitment for a $72 million loan guarantee last week, following up a $31 million Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit awarded to Sage earlier in the year.

Enabling the company to ramp up production for commercial, institutional and residential applications, the 250,000-square-foot facility is expected to add 160 full-time manufacturing and technology jobs to the 100 jobs in Sage's current plant in southern Minnesota.  Groundbreaking is scheduled for summer of 2010, and the plant will be shipping its SageGlass product in the latter part of 2011.

SageGlass products use nanotechnology to create dynamic windows that change tint to regulate sunlight, similar to the way transition lenses work in sunglasses, the manufacturer explains. Windows using the technology are controlled electronically, switching from clear to darkly tinted at the click of a button or programmed to respond to changing sunlight and heat conditions. The technology is said to not only provide dramatic energy savings, but also enhance occupant comfort and productivity by preserving their connection to the outdoors.

“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," says Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who announced the conditional loan guarantee commitment for Sage under a program designed to support innovative technologies that reduce or sequester greenhouse gases. "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.”

“The company’s electronically tintable glass is a prime example of these energy efficiency technologies," says John Van Dine, Sage CEO and founder. "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, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and several members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation, officials note.

“Sage is the kind of company that makes Minnesota proud,” says 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.”

“I am thrilled Sage has chosen to stay in Minnesota and to expand its facility," adds Klobuchar. "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.”