Posted by: Advanced Glazings Ltd. | November 15, 2010

Are you “Pushing the Envelope?”

View the brief video below and “Leave a comment” describing how you would use Solera+Nanogel to “Push the Envelope of Building Facades”.

The most innovative comment will be selected to win an IPAD (16gig WIFI). This competition closes on December 1st and the winner will be posted on our blog and emailed on December 2nd 2010.

Please feel free to tweet & share the video!

p.s. We highly recommend pressing the HD Button on the top right for best viewing results.

Employees or anyone affiliated with this competition or Advanced Glazings and Cabot are not eligible to win but can still leave a comment.


  1. These are truly extraordinary insulation values for a glass glazing material. This certainly makes it easier to use a lot more glass on the building envelope.

    I’m envisioning a large atrium area – perhaps a hotel lobby, a convention center or a high end shopping mall. The roof of this transition space is completely covered in your product – allowing for 100% daylighting without the glare of direct sunlight and with minimal heat loss.

    I’m still seeing significant vertical area glazed with clear glass to maintain visual connection with external space – but putting the translucent glass on the roof will really soften the interior lighting and create a more comfortable space.

  2. Great video………Along with the what was mentioned above, hospitals would benefit from this product in atrium area. For patients to be able to sit in daylight without the fluxuation in temperature would really pick up spirits. Also univeristies, would have been nice to sit in a class with 100% daylight without having to squint because of the glare.

  3. I’d like to use this to help achieve passive house standards.

  4. This is an exciting way to throw daylight deep into the space. So often daylight design is limited by orientation, and shading issues. Solera + Nanogel opens up opportunities to bring in daylight where you’d ordinarily be concerned by glare, direct penetration, and hot spots.

  5. It would be perfect for a natatorium. Direct sunlight gleaming off the water causes bright and dark areas that shimmer with the water movement and cause problems with swimmers, especially in swimming competitions. Use of this product instead of clear glass would provide the perfect daylit space. Harvesting daylight in a natatorium also assists in the ever present problem of laying out lights that can fill the space with consisten lighting while still being relegated to the perimeter of the pool. Ever try to change a lightbulb in a fixture hanging over the water?

  6. This is a great product that I expect to see used more in the United States. The challenge is that vision glass is meant to provide views in most applications. I see this product used in conjunction with vision glass, but the views are still lost in those areas. If you can find a way to make the unit more transparent and still offer increased R value over standard insulated glazing, you may have a product that could be used on an entire building skin and is acceptable to a building owner & occupant.

  7. Solera – “The Latest In Innovative Glazing”

  8. One of the great advantages of the material characteristics is that the design may be advanced quickly knowing that the design criteria will be met through the material selection. Interior Planning and Building Perimeter may be driven on separate schedules, if necessary, and the envelope requirements are not in question of attainment. This makes for very flexible designing, saves time in the delivery process, and allows an expansion of limits for the imagination.

  9. this combination has great application in school classrooms – we’ve been introducing large glazed areas as part of sustainable and high performing school strategies. LEED points are scored in daylight design categories but downsides are are glare, dealing with different characteristics of different exposures and finding products with some R value at reasonable cost. Current solutions are large areas of manually operated blinds which do not suit schools very well and exterior louvers to deal with sun control – expensive and often “value engineered” out. High R values are not obtainable and show reducing return for expenditure as more components are added eg low e coat, argon filled cavity, thermal spacers. The combination of a light diffusing product with R-18 solves all of these issues yet offers a light filled, pleasing and high perfoming environment.

  10. I would like to use this as a roof over an open/outdoor stadium to eliminate the glare and while still allowing the entire roof area to be used as natural lighting.

  11. Solera, we used the solera L on a school project completed September 2010. Each classroom, facing due south, had a group of windows 22 feet wide by 8 feet tall. The rooms are 28 feet deep by 30 feet long. A lot of light. The architects simple solution, top half Solera, bottom half vision glass. The Solera T would have greatly improved the thermal resistance of that section of wall. The nanogel (small granuals of glass trap air in many small pockets. Air is a poor conductor of heat energy. Nanogel class granual system is a good insulator. Nanogel also diffuses the light, glass transmits short wavelength radiation. Can nanogel be made to direct the light like a prism?

    sincerely, dave altman

  12. In a time where a holistic view to design is so important, it is refreshing to see that a company continues to develop product that takes on a multiform and purpose. It solves many issues a designer has with creating a 21st century building, views, natural lighting, and energy efficiency. Solera Daylighting Solutions creates an “Efficient Dynamic” that helps a designer significantly reduce the building’s impact on the environment.

  13. We are in the early planning stages of two K-12 schools; an elementary and a high school. We have proposed expansive glass facades but have to meet strict new requirements on thermal performance. Additionally the classrooms are large and we are looking for solutions that deliver glare-free daylight deep into the spaces. Solera is a great product because it helps us meet what at times are seemingly conflicting requirments. It’s an ideal product for schools.

  14. Art and light are synonymous. The design of museums have come a long way in recent years. However, their facades merely mask the vast labyrinth of closed rooms and hallways that they contain. The buildings become sculptures of their own when seen from the outside, but rarely express the surroundings once the visitor is within. The difficulty lies in the fact that it is incredibly challenging to use an exterior curtain wall system without the need for design-hindering spandrel panels and black-out shades. The importance of light quality affects an individual’s emotional state, which in turn affects the perception of the artwork. Art (especially historical pieces) is created to be seen in a natural environment, with natural light playing off the peaks and valley’s of the artists brush strokes as subtle variations of the quality of light bring the pieces to life. Intense, hot and concentrated light from halogen bulbs used in museums today only offer an artificial quality that does no justice, giving a lifeless, flat, and almost uninspiring quality. A glazed exterior shell that offers natural, yet controlled light from the outside, views to the surroundings, and additional insulation to protect centuries of artwork has the potential to create an experience like no other.

    • … and it would certainly give Mona Lisa something to smile about.

  15. The firm I work for specializes in Arctic design. Solera’s many benefits would work great in our northern climate. The thermal properties would allow us to use more windows and the eliminated glare will be appreciated during our light season when the evening sun sits low. These are 2 major concerns in arctic design and therefore the façades of the buildings in our communities have minimal glazing. With use of the design possibilities Solera offers we could bring buildings that have never before been possible in the north. Any building, whether it be a school, health center, recreation complex or office building could now offer sweeping views of our beautiful Arctic landscape. Vast frozen tundra, sundogs and the northern lights could finally be enjoyed in warmth!

    • Hi Melanie,

      I am with the manufacturers of the nanogel insulation used by the Solera team in creating these R-18 IGU panels.

      You comment struck me because we have this last year installed IGU units in Antartica in the Halley VI expedition site for the British research team. This was a first in order to provide a bright daylit space for the occupants and yet the correct thermal envelop to assure their comfort and safety.

      This product will definately suit your designs for artic regions.


  16. I would create “architecture as super hero”. An unsuspecting transformation from efficiency to art. A building that, by day, would be a solar and lighting efficient machine with the Solera+Nanogel lending its incredible R values and diffused light qualities. By night, backlight the translucent Solera-Nanogel panes with color-changing LED’s to make an architectural tour de force of varying colors and patterns.

  17. light equals life. Imagine an underground garden with light deep into the darkness

  18. Solera+Nanogel : Glass finally comes out of the dark ages and evolves into the latest superb material. We are using this product to control heat gain, provide daylight and views, while still giving the greatest aesthetic for an Athletics building.

  19. The Advanced Glazing product is the best performing nanogel out there right now. Its interior honeycomb prevents nano settling. The T-shaped unit that allows installation in a conventional (dbl glazed depth) curtainwall is clever. AG also offers big panels which makes it much more energy efficient and cost effective than smaller dimensioned competitive nanos where frame losses are significantly higher. Two suggestions for pushing the envelope:

    1. If you integrated the structural strength of the frame with that of the a rigid honeycomb you should be able to match the max size of glass sheet product out there. With a jumbo nano panel you can reduce to a minimum frame area, the main source of curtainwall heat loss.

    2. For all of AG’s trumpeting, the perceptible light you get from the nano panel is uniform and unchanging no matter the sun’s position or intensity. As a matter of daylight quality – visible intensity, time, climate and solar data – it’s dead. But you could selectively remove honeycomb + nano area to allow, within the panel, view and direct solar. You could also leave the honeycomb in place and selectively remove the nano. This would deliver better light penetration and redirection, low between the glass convection and good shading and reasonable glare control.

    In either case, the cellular nature of the honeycomb would allow selective honeycomb removals to be freeform, which architects would love.

  20. A few of the comments above mentioned the importants of “control” in reference to heat gain and the buiding envelope. In multi-unit residential design, we are seeing this having a huge impact. Especially in urban environments, developers are looking to incorporate more and more glazing in the building skin where traditionally, operable “punched” windows in a brick veneer wall allowed for better thermal control. As more glazing is added to livingrooms and common areas, it often becomes more complicated to control and balance heating systems with less transparent bedrooms and private areas. Solera and the Nanogel technology would be an excellent way to design the best of both worlds. Day lighting spaces is a huge indoor environmental quality benefit and significant glazing is currently thought to make multi-unit housing “expensive” and marketable. Nanogel used in limited quantities to reduce cost could be incorporated to “break-down” the building facade and add glazing and visual interest while maintaining the themal qualities of the envelope that we are used to in traditional design. Operable insulated windows with efficient Low-E glazing could be installed as separate components of the building envelope to make sure that air sealing is maintained and costs are controlled.

  21. Highly insulative glazing will have a dramatic impact on long term energy use by the building, but more importantly the occupant comfort will surely eclipse it with increased efficiencies. It’s exciting to see a product achieve these gains while overcoming the initial hurdle of first cost. I’m looking forward to seeing a product like Solera+Nanogel on a future project.

  22. Pushing the Envelope of Building Facades

    We live in Nova Scotia where, by November, except for some parsley and kale, fresh fruits and vegetables at Farmers’ Markets are pretty much over with. This forces a number of our seasonal workers onto Employment Insurance. From November to May, most produce in our grocery stores is imported from far-away warmer climates. Yes, we have some greenhouses here, and they do extend the season. Loomer Hydroponic greenhouses, for example, used to run all winter. But, at this latitude, in months like February, greenhouses need heat. Here is where Solera + Nanogel and agriculture can come together.

    I would propose a commercial scale greenhouse facility using Solera + Nanogel panels(possibly adjusted for wavelength), to minimize fossil fuel consumption, and to create a glare-free, aesthetically pleasing, warm, solid and long lasting growing environment for year round operation. This would help in the production of locally grown food, enabled by a locally developed green technology. It would be a win-win scenario.

    Pushing the envelope further, a similar concept might be beneficial for our poultry industry where daylighting and ventilation in industrial coops is being scrutinized.

    As an architect, I have followed the development of Solera since it’s inception in Sydney several years ago. You may be interested to know that the Solera sample panel that was provided back then has been re-deployed as a light table. Now there’s pushing the envelope!

  23. Passive solar wisdom tells us to harvest light and energy by maximizing glazing on the south facade. What if your southerly view is not desirable and your project has green ambitions?

    Our design team plans to push the envelope and model our building with a nearly solid plane of solera+naogel on the south facade to capture as much daylight for the interior of the building as possible. The counterpoint to the soft glowing south wall: clear glazing used sparingly on the south and carefully at other facades to capture and frame views of the distant and near landscape.

    Unconventional, positive thinking.

  24. Applications for this product seem pretty straight-forward and easily implemented in building types with large scale spaces like lobbies, atriums, rec centers, sports arenas, even academic buildings and hospitals. This is a fantastic use of a great idea, however since I work a lot on multi-family residential, student housing and hospitality, it’s a difficult balance to provide ample daylight, light control and views in a small space with small windows and a low budget. I do think it’s possible with some creativity to use this technology to arrange windows and provide daylight differently than is the otherwise most common approach. It would be great to combine this product with some form of integrated blackout or internal shading system to further reduce heat gain and provide night time privacy in residential use. In the mean time, I’m definitely interested in studying approaches that could make residences private, well-daylit and very well insulated with this advanced glazing product.

  25. As others have posted, it does appear that this product is fairly simple in its application. One non-standard application would be at areas where spandral glass would be typically installed. The opaque nature of the product would screen any unwanted views into the space behind the spandrel, while it’s high R-value elminates the need to install insulation behind the spandrel panel. This product would also eliminate the potential for heat and moisture to build up between the insulation and spandrel panel.

    Where this product would really generate unexpected value is from the diffuse light penetrating deep into the ceiling plenum space. As an architect working with several facility managers, having enought light to do maintenance on all of the mechanical, electrical, technology, and plumbing above the ceiling is always an issue.

    I know that this application isn’t what this product was created for, but using it as a spandrel panel eliminates problems current systems have, adds diffuse light to areas where (as architects) we don’t typically think is important, and if used in windows into occupied spaces for daylighting as well, an aesthetic other than the typical horizontal spandrel stripes so common on office buildings can be achieved.

  26. It is frustrating as an engineer to see invalid stereotypes supported by an industry partner such as Advanced Glazings. We are regularly called upon by our architectural partners to advise what can be used to provide an energy efficient solution. In such instances we look to companies like Advanced Glazings.

    I believe in the product – the delivery of the message and perpetuation of a false image is unpalatable.

    • Dear Kenneth,

      Your comment is duly noted and we apologize as it was not our intention to stereotype Engineers, Architects or clients. We highly respect the Engineering community and the level of support they show us. At Advanced Glazings we are proud of the work our engineering department. The intent of the slide and most notably the use of the concrete structure (which I believe you are referring to), was to demonstrate an extreme option to thermally insulate a structure. We appreciate your ongoing support and hope you will continue to look to the Solera line of products as a material choice to daylight and insulate your buildings.


      Avi Bar
      V.P. Architectural Products

  27. looks like this has some awesome potential. I look forward to following it.

  28. Very exciting product and technology, nice job on the video.

  29. Since a window is always at a fixed location, and sun angles throughout the year are known, the nanogel should be engineered (through it’s geometry, and maybe as well it’s – potentially selective? – light-transmission characteristics) in a way that it deflects light from angles where it causes disturbance and would require the use of blinds, while still allowing views from certain angles – the sitting person in a class room or the person passing by the curtain wall. This might be an exciting architectural element, as the view would shift with the viewers position, creating an ever changing experience. On a more basic level, solara+nanogel glas panels could simply be configured for the location/direction they are in to make the best of light deflection while maintaining views and with exceptional insulation. Good luck with that!

  30. If I had known of this combination 18 months ago, I would have replaced my translucent panels and my shaded curtain wall with Solera+Nonogel to achieve my LEED NC 2.2 Dayligting and Views goals. Excellent offering for diffuse light in deep spaces.

  31. I would like to see this product used in conjuction with passive solar and natural ventilation strategies. Potentially a solution may go beyond merely finding a balance between thermal efficiency and natural daylighting but rather be a proactive element in using solar thermal energy.

    The Solera + Nanogel could be used in, say, a multi-story office building to provide a high level of daylighting on all sides of the building. Daylight sensors on the lights, along with the Solera + Nanogel, would help keep the electric bill down.

    Additionally smaller strips (or panels) of vision glazing – with lower R-values – could be added at each level and could be provided with some overhangs to capture the low-angle morning, afternoon, and winter sunlight. If the size of the overhang is calculated for each exposure correctly, it could offset an owners heating bill without hugely impacting the summer cooling load. These strips/panels would act as vision glazing and help to maintain a positive and productive work environment while providing daylighting via the translucent nanogel.

    Lastly, some sensor operated windows interspersed between the nano-gel panels and could be used to naturally ventilate the building, providing free cooling at certain times of year while meeting code.

    …well that’s a lot, but as a side note I also think it would be very neat to see the solera product combined with trombe wall technology…

    Anyways some food for thought.


  32. It is a good material and I think it could be used in other wall finishing too, maybe!
    In Japan the light that come through the glass is regulated, a certain percentages will be needed to clear the regulation. That will be great some buildings need the light but not the eyes. I wish to know the rate of light transmissive, and hopelly we can cooperate in production of new type of wall finishing in Japan, in the future.

  33. We were born of light.
    The seasons are felt through light. We only know the world as it is evoked by light, and from this comes the thought that material is spent light. To me natural light is the only light, because it has mood- it provides a ground of common agreement for man-it puts us in touch with the eternal. Natural light is the only light that makes architecture architecture.
    – Louis Kahn

    I see an opportunity in redefining a Canadian identity in architectural construction.
    Clients often come to me and say “I want a space with a lot of light and I want it to be super energy efficient” – immediately following is a series of photos of Californian homes with single pane glass windows as far as the eye can see. As a Canadian East Coast Architect – light matters & so does insulation.

    What does a Canadian Building look like is a question of particular interest to me, and how can technological advancements in glazing/insulation reinterpret a Canadian look? I venture a challenge to increase the use of light in the palette of defining Canadian architecture. Although, one does not have to venture to far in Canadian vernacular to find inspiration – the igloo and its intense character of diffused light comes immedietly to mind.

    Solera/Nanogel offers the ability to provide a rich dimension to the architectural experience without sacrifice in efficiency.

  34. I’m interested in this option as our entire building front is windows. The oldest section of the building has very poorly insulated window – temperatures next to the windows will easily be 10-15-degrees lower than the rest of the room during the winter. This has to relate in massive heat loss and complete inefficiency. Perhaps this would give an aesthetically pleasing solution.

  35. We recently used Solera for a project in Cumberland Rhode Island. The Solera glazing was used to reduce glare in classrooms instead of exterior shading louvers. the classrooms are 30 feet wide by 28 feet deep with a due south facing window 8 feet high by 27 feet long. The Solera was used in the upper half and vision glass in the lower half of the windows. This glazing is excepted as an alternative means to reduce glare by the CHPS (Collaborative for High Performace Schools) guidelines.

    Question: will solera be developing a product the directs light in addition to diffusing light (like a prism)

    dave altman

  36. I would take the properties of Solera glazing and incorporate them into a full building system. I would develop the panels for use in structurally glazed curtain walls and roofs. For roofing panels I would increase the thickness of the aerogel insulation to create the standard required R30 insulating value for roofs. This would allow the use of the product in a fully glazed structure as well a provide a system where insulated roof panels could provide diffused light to interior spaces without the loss of R value (i.e. between skylight/glass ceiling and normal roofing construction.) This would also create a great product for skylight glazing. I would also experiment with different glazing materials like translucent fiberglass or polycarbonate glazing to crate structurally insulated panels with light transmitting properties. This could open the possibility of prefabricated structures (i.e greenhouses, utility type buildings typically fabricated of steel) where prefabricated translucent insulating panels could extend the products use globally and have an even greater impact on energy savings globally.

  37. We have used Solera on our last 3 hockey arenas we have designed. After walking through each one after completion, the same comment always comes up from us and the client; why didn’t we use more?
    This is a challenge to Architects who specify Solera on projects; think of products like Solera as you are coming up with the design concept early in the project so as to eliminate the possibility later on that you will ‘substitute’ normal windows with Solera. When innovative products such as Solera are considered early, only then can the building integrate innovative products such as this light scattering glass.

    Let natural light lead the project.

  38. What if the Solera+Nanogel system would absorb some of the light during the day and radiate it at night?
    Applying phosphorescent glass coatings or pigments on to Solera+Nanogel system would create a self-illuminating product at night. The coating could emit light in different tints and be applied in different patterns for uses such as way-finding or purely design imaging.
    One such application may be in a campground where huts could be mainly built out of self-illuminating Solera+Nanogel units. Each hut could have its own identity at night based on the softly glowing color and/or pattern. During the day there would be no need for artificial lighting and at night what better way to get around the campground than being oriented by these soft glowing colored architectural objects playfully scattered throughout the landscape. As the time passes and everyone falls asleep the soft glow is slowly dimming…The next morning the sun rises and the cycle continues.

  39. Solera + Nanogel – A True High Performance Glazing and a “vision for the future”, I would use it in a residential / commercial building setting where the clients demand a “Glass Only” building where the only envelope you would be “pushing” is the glass. This technology offers the perfect solution for the conditions requiring natural light from all directions, but avoid glare and solar heat gain.

    My only suggestion in pushing the envelope of “Solara + Nanogel” further would be, if the Aerogel in the glass could be made to settle down / dissipate when the sunlight does not hit the glass surface, thereby creating a true vision glazing where people could see thru what’s happening on the other side of the glass. It certainly could be a challenge, but with the technology avaialbe now, it is not impossible.

    Thanks Solera for a truly innovative product but do consider the suggestion above to make it a “Killer Product”.

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