News - March 14, 2023

And then there was (enough) light

Written by Bertrand Piccard 2 min read

I am often surprised by the simplicity of innovation. Mind you, I'm talking about the simplicity of the idea, not the technology itself. So when I discover the latest solutions approved by the Solar Impulse Foundation and our independent experts (today there are more than 1450!), I am often ashamed not to have thought of them myself.

Among them, the best-known or most widely used throughout the world compete in ingenuity to transform an idea that on paper seems obvious, into reality. The result is exciting!

The SageGlass solution, for example, fascinates me because, despite its extraordinary and complex technology, it takes up a concept of disconcerting simplicity: mastering natural light. If we think about it, mankind has always done it, but in a rudimentary way: we have shutters, curtains, dark glasses on our cars, sunglasses, south-facing windows, skylights, but also natural light sensors (I'll tell you about Solight, another labeled solution, one day!) SageGlass, a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, offers electrochromic glazing, i.e. glazing that tints or brightens according to the amount of light and heat, perfectly regulating the temperature inside and thus reducing energy consumption: automatically we heat less when it's cold, we air condition less when it's hot.

This was the thinking behind Schneider Electric's construction of its IntenCity campus in Grenoble. A state-of-the-art building considered one of the most energy-efficient in the world, IntenCity equipped its huge corporate bistro with SageGlass intelligent glazing to improve the comfort of its 1,500 on-site employees. The technology will perfectly and precisely control the brightness needed to allow the gratin dauphinois to be seen on the plate while controlling the temperature, both in winter and summer. The view on the Alps is also guaranteed!

Thanks to SageGlass and other innovative solutions, IntenCity consumes 37 kWh/m2 per year, compared to an average of 330 for a similar building in Europe. Is there anything more to say? The returns on investment are fast, the technologies are ready for implementation, the case studies are accumulating and yet we continue, out of intellectual laziness or lack of knowledge, to build or renovate badly? It is difficult to write this column every month without feeling a little frustrated, but each example pushes me to continue to convince. In the end, it's only drop by drop that the rain has shaped the Grand Canyon. Let's just hope we're faster.

*This article is taken from Les Echos/Investir, where Bertrand Piccard writes a monthly column*.

Written by Bertrand Piccard on March 14, 2023

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