The Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colo., utilizes a lot of glass—much of it used for the purposes of making the building feel welcoming. According to ZGF, project architects, the hospital is built to maximize the use of natural light, using windows and “light wells” to bring natural light into patient rooms. It doesn’t end there, though. ZGF notes that “natural light, full-spectrum lighting and lighting bright enough for doctors and nurses to safely and efficiently serve a patient yet dim enough for sleep is healing and helps prevent medical errors.” To that end, electrochromic glazing—specifically dynamic glass from SAGE, became an important feature in the cardiac operating rooms of the newly completed East Tower.
“We needed to address several critical conditions with the windows, such as higher humidity in the ORs, natural light controls for the procedures performed, higher energy performance to meet our LEED goals and strict infection control requirements for the spaces,” says Sharron Van der Meulen, an interior designer and principal at ZGF.
“Relative to most of our projects, [Children’s Hospital] is a fairly small one – but then again, it is fairly unusual to have glass [and] windows in a surgical facility. Interestingly, one of our very first commercial projects back in 2003 was also in an operating room in California, so this type of project is unique but not unprecedented,” adds Derek Malmquist, vice president of marketing at SAGE.
In addition to sun control solutions, Van der Meulen and her team had to consider maintenance costs, infection control issues and the operation of different solutions by physicians and staff.
“The functionality and performance values of electrochromic glazing offered the most potential relative to these specific conditions,” she says.
“Healthcare [facilities are] still a fairly small part of our mix today but a segment we see growing quite a bit for electrochromic glass in the future due to the daylighting benefits and ability to eliminate blinds and shades, which can harbor dirt, germs and require consistent cleaning and maintenance,” Malmquist explains.
According to the company, SageGlass is a solid-state glazing technology that is easy to keep clean and sterile for effective infection control compared to blinds and shades. With the technology, hospital staff can program a specific light level for the entire day and the glass will automatically tint or lighten as need be to keep the interior constant.
Malmquist adds that the use of electrochromic glass in surgical facilities is still a pretty unique endeavor and that this project was smaller than most—only three lites— “but we liked the project because of the unique nature of it and the healthcare aspect.”
The East Tower project is LEED® registered and is currently seeking LEED Gold certification.