Electrochromic Glazing System for UW Health Sciences Education Building

Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $65,000

Letter of Intent:

Project Proposal Summary

In order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and to respond to the climate change emergency, it is necessary for University of Washington to invest in new building technologies that can reduce building energy consumption while at the same time improving the student experience and supporting the institutional mission of the University. Currently, the University is in the planning and design process for a new Health Sciences Education Building (HSEB) located on NE Pacific St. on the South end of campus, which will serve students, faculty and staff for generations.

A relatively new technology, the electrochromic window (ECW) is being considered for a number of the teaching spaces. This technology aims to reduce energy consumption, increase visual and thermal comfort, and reduce maintenance over the life of the building. Like self-tinting prescription glasses, ECWs are an optical glazing (window) technology by which the visible and solar transmittance of a window can be controlled between a transparent state to a very darkened state thus providing a range of visible light transmittances (Tvis) and solar heat gain coefficients (SHGC) when modulated by a control system and sensors to adjust to climate conditions.

This proposal requests a total of $65,000 from CSF to fund three project components: (1) an initial feasibility and evaluation phase for two students to work with the UW Project Development Group and the Miller Hull Partnership (leading the design team) to assess the technology and evaluate its potential impacts ($6,000); (2) to fund a portion of the incremental cost (added cost beyond conventional windows) of installing the ECWs at the HSEB (approximately $45,000) ; and (3) student labor to provide education, outreach, and post occupancy evaluation and storytelling about the technology ($14,000). If, after the initial feasibility phase, the design team or the UW Project Development Group elects not to incorporate ECWs the balance of the funding will be returned to CSF.

Furthermore, the process of design and evaluation of ECWs and dynamic shading systems will be incorporated into a UW course (ARCH 535) offered in by a faculty member in the College of Built Environments during spring quarter during the duration of the project.

If funded, this project will contribute to UW campus sustainability by maximizing energy performance, and improving the classroom experience while showcasing new building envelope technology that sets new sustainability standards on campus.

Sustainable Impact

In order to reach carbon reduction goals and achieve net neutrality by 2050, it is necessary for the University of Washington to invest in new building technologies. Electrochromic Glazing, an electronically tinted glass system, has been shown to improve building performance by maximizing solar energy and minimizing unwanted heat and glare. By adopting this emerging technology, the University of Washington will reduce its carbon emissions and set new standards for building performance. Campus must continue to serve as a living laboratory for sustainable solutions, promoting a culture of environmental stewardship into the future.  

Goals and objectives

  1. Maximize Energy Performance
  2. Showcase An Emerging Building Technology
  3. Enhance Occupant Satisfaction

A primary goal is to improve thermal comfort and reduce glare. This is very important if facility managers are concerned about productivity costs.  It is essential that the academic sphere remain the best place to generate positive experiences for occupants.  Buildings that encourage people to connect is an objective the university recognizes as an important aspect of the UW’s character.  Studies show that a connection to the outdoors can improve cognitive function.  Natural light and outdoor views can boost worker productivity. Implementation of electrochromic windows will allow for a higher square footage of glass because of the inherent energy savings.   Not only will electrochromic glass improve the social sphere but it also brings the heat load of a building down, allowing for a smaller HVAC system.

Education & Outreach

The evaluation of and incorporation of a new technology for a future teaching facility offers a number of educational an outreach benefits. First, it will provide the opportunity to include UW students in the decision-making process inherent in evaluating a new technology for the Campus. This will provide hands-on engagement in life-cycle-cost assessment where critical issues of user experience, energy performance, and operations and maintenance are evaluated. The findings from this process will inform future projects at UW and will be incorporated in the outreach and education component. Once the project is constructed, students will have the experience of a new type of classroom experience using the dynamic glazing to improve their comfort and the classroom experience.  This project will offer an opportunity to develop messaging and storytelling via visual displays and/or interactive media that is exhibited in indoor public spaces and shares energy-savings and other aspects of the design. Specific strategies for community engagement will be established in the initial phase of the project, depending on the interactive feedback capabilities of the specific ECW system.

Concurrent with the design process students in the College of Built Environments will have the opportunity to learn more about ECWs and the project development process for the HSEB in a course, ARCH 535: Daylighting Design taught by Associate Professor Christopher Meek, with assistance from Connor Beck and Ben-Hsin Dow, the students participating in the CSF-funded project.

Methods and Strategies

The electrochromic windows will be placed in the “heart” of student communal areas, specifically multi-use spaces and classrooms. The majority of these spaces are oriented facing south so it is important to implement appropriate glazing mechanisms on the southern facades that handle large volumes of sunlight.  With user and/or automated controls that change tint, electrochromic glass eliminates the need for blinds or louvres, providing options for user and automated controls tint.  This allows the building to have a more tidy appearance with the lack of shading devices. The windows are to be placed in rooms that require varying light levels to accommodate multi-use activities.  

Plan of Evaluation

The long-term scope of the project may require a post-occupancy questionnaire and will require data collection from the system to evaluate impacts and tell the story of the system as part of the demonstration. This would be done in coordination with the UW Office of Sustainability. Additionally, post occupancy studies could measure building heat loads and light intensity.


This funding request includes two components: (1) $20,000 of student labor; (2) approximately $45,000 to cover the incremental cost of upgrading conventional code-compliant glass to ECWs in the new HSEB facility. Since the project is currently in design, it is unclear the total amount of ECWs that would provide significant benefit to the building, but at minimum 1000 ft² in a prominent, visible, and accessible location is projected. Any funding that is not used will be returned to CSF.  Furthermore, the project team will seek additional sources to defray the cost of this incremental investment including, the ECW manufacturer and local utilities.

EC glazing cost about $145 per square foot. Since the design is in process the exact amount of ECW glass area is yet to be determined, but we anticipate an approximate incremental cost of $45,000 compared to conventional glazing. A breakdown of budget items includes:

  1. Incremental capital costs of electrochromic windows:
    • $45,000 -- CSF
  2. Student Salaries for two students for one year total:
    • $6,000 – CSF at .25 FTE for 1 quarter per timeline (Feasibility/Design/Education)
    • $14,000 – CSF at .25 FTE for 1 quarter per timeline (Post-occupancy evaluation/Outreach/Education)

Timeline & Accountability

Phase I -- Initial feasibility and design, student education (1 year).

Phase II – Procurement and installation, and student education, (1-3).

Phase III – Post-occupancy evaluation, and public outreach (2022).

Accountability:  Core Project Team

Master of Architecture Students (Project co-Leads)

Connor Beck, M. Arch Candidate

Ben-Hsin Dow, M. Arch Candidate

Additional future students TBD

Will lead the CSF project and coordinate with all external and internal participants in the project. Will be responsible for reporting progress, activities, and outcomes to the CSF.


University of Washington Project Delivery Group (HSEB) UW Facilities

Point person: Julie Knorr, Architect, Project Manager

Will serve as the point-of-contact at the University of Washington Project Development Group and provide connections to UW stakeholder groups involved in the project.


The Miller Hull Partnership (A/E Lead)

Point persons: Chris Hellstern, Living Building Challenge Services Director

Elizabeth Moggio, AIA, Associate

Will serve as the primary point of contact for the architecture and engineering team.  Person will lead technical analysis incorporating student activities in the design and evaluation process of the ECWs and provide coordination with the energy engineering team at PAE Engineering (project mechanical engineer).


University of Washington Integrated Design Lab/Department of Architecture

Point person: Christopher Meek, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture

The Integrated Design Lab (IDL), will provide technical modeling support and will provide space support and computing resources for the student project leads. Prof. Meek will also incorporate ECW modeling and design developed with the CSF project student leads in the course ARCH 535: Daylighting Design offered in spring quarter in the College of Built Environments. This course is at the graduate level, but is open to undergraduates with instructor permission.

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Connor Beck