Dynamic Glass Case Study

Most of us have seen a pair of glasses that gradually tint in bright sunlight. That same effect is possible on window glass in buildings.

Taking the electrochromic process to real estate facades has been a technology in process for more than a decade. Hines has tracked the migration from laboratory to manufacturer with interest, given the potential to reduce energy costs and increase occupant comfort in its buildings.

Known as dynamic glass, these windows change tint as the amount of UV light hits sensors within them, darkening and then lightening as the sun moves across the sky.

Hines has been in discussions with two of the major dynamic glazing manufacturers for commercial office buildings for a number of years as the technology has evolved. Both have a commercial-grade product available, although the manufacturing capacities are still insufficient for mass market acceptance. For a commercial speculative office building (with a target of a five-year payback on the dynamic glass facade), the target cost premium per square foot would need to be $22 - $25 versus the $42 - $45 per square foot cost today. This gap will close as the manufacturing capacities expand and unit costs decline.

For a corporate headquarters building with a longer payback threshold, dynamic glass may well be attractive today. As part of Hines’ technology initiative, the firm is currently in discussions with one manufacturer to do a beta test installation to test energy savings, solar heat gain reduction and occupant comfort.


  • Significantly reduced solar glare and solar heat gain
  • Reduced requirements for HVAC capacity
  • Reduced operating expense/utility costs
  • Improved occupier comfort


  • Significant cost premium over top quality low-E glazing
  • Tinting range is in fixed steps from roughly 4% to 60% VLT
  • Interior blinds still required for glare control

Hines partners with the world’s finest architects, engineers and designers to provide the highest level of sustainable design. The firm has also joined with academic collaborators in forward-looking research and in educating the next generation. Through outstanding leadership and partnership with leading manufacturers, Hines has made tremendous advancements in putting new building strategies and technologies into practice and has used its experience to raise standards across the industry and throughout the world.

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