Saint-Gobain Invests $80M in Dynamic Glass Maker Sage

Saint-Gobain, one of the world’s largest glass and construction material manufacturers, is making an $80 million equity investment in Sage Electrochromics, a company that makes electronically tintable "dynamic glass."

Saint-Goabain said the investment aims at developing an affordable, mass-market product, that will usher in a "new era of energy-saving buildings."

Under terms of the agreement, Saint-Gobain will contribute its electrochromic glass intellectual property (IP) to SAGE, and all manufacturing and R&D efforts will be merged. SAGE will manufacture the next-generation dynamic glass for both companies’ product lines at its facilities in Faribault, Minn. Two senior members of Saint-Gobain’s management team will join SAGE’s board of directors.

The funding will enable construction of the world’s largest
electrochromic glass manufacturing facility, to be located in Faribault,
Minn. The project began this month and will cost around $135 million,
excluding working capital. The new plant will manufacture much larger
sheets of glass that have been previously unavailable in the market.
This is expected to open up 95% of all global building opportunities.

Saint-Gobain said the two companies currently have the most proven electrochromic products on the market, with more than 100 patents and 40 years combined R&D experience.

"Until now, electrochromic glass has largely been an emerging product, not widely deployed due to cost and manufacturing logistics. This alliance will trigger economies of scale, making possible a new era of high-performance windows that are both eco-friendly and economically compelling," said John Van Dine, SAGE Founder and CEO. "This alliance will dramatically accelerate global adoption of this game-changing technology in both commercial and residential markets."

SAGE will remain an independent company and will market its SageGlass products in North America. Saint-Gobain will distribute the SageGlass technology under the QUANTUM GLASS brand in Europe. The two companies will work together to develop a marketing strategy for Asia and the rest of the world, leveraging Saint-Gobain’s vast global distribution partnerships. The companies said they also will work together to create efficiencies in the global distribution network that reduce carbon footprint.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently conditionally awarded SAGE more than $72 million in DOE loan guarantees. According to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, "SageGlass, which can be used in windows, skylights and curtain walls, allows natural light to come through while controlling unwanted solar heat and glare. This technology can help transform windows and skylights from energy liabilities to energy savers. In fact, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, a DOE facility, believes that SageGlass has the potential to reduce building heating and air conditioning equipment size by up to 25%, which would cut construction costs. SageGlass could also reduce the overall cooling loads for commercial buildings up to 20% by lowering peak-power demand and may reduce lighting costs by up to 60%."

Barclays Capital acted as financial advisor to SAGE in the transaction. Also participating in this investment round was TIAA CREF. Previous investors in SAGE include Good Energies and NV Bekaert SA.

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