GSA Starts Test of New Sustainable Window Technology in Portland

This month, GSA completed the installation of 210 dynamic, electrochromic (EC) windows on the south side of Portland’s 911 Federal Building. Through the end of calendar year, GSA’s Green Proving Ground (GPG) program will evaluate the effectiveness of these windows in improving tenant comfort and saving energy, and compare their effectiveness in these areas to existing windows with blinds.

Exterior view of the 911 Federal Building. EC windows can be seen on the 5th, 6th, and 7th floors.
Exterior view of the 911 Federal Building. EC windows can be seen on the 5th, 6th, and 7th floors.

The EC windows were installed on the south side of the 911 Building’s fifth, sixth, and seventh floors – the areas that receive the most heat and glare from the sun. They are expected to reduce the building heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting energy use by 20 percent, while giving building occupants continuous, unobstructed views to the outdoors.

EC windows use a small electric current to automatically tint based on the amount of daylight coming in from outside. Using advanced and predictive algorithms, the windows transition through four different tint levels to control glare and solar heat gain without the use of blinds.

Key Facts:

  • GPG commissioned Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to study EC windows at the 911 Federal Building. GPG plans to issue a report in 2016 with findings from the evaluation, including the windows’ performance in reducing energy use and improving tenant comfort in a cost-effective manner.
  • EC windows have been tested by GPG at a land port of entry in Donna, Texas, and at the Denver Federal Center. A study is ongoing at the John E. Moss Federal Building in Sacramento, Calif. This is GPG’s first evaluation of the technology in the Pacific Northwest.
  • The windows used in this evaluation were provided by View, Inc. and installed by Cherokee Construction Services LLC, a small disadvantaged business.
Side-by-side comparison of EC windows in their 3rd-level tint (left) and in their clear state (right).
Side-by-side comparison of EC windows in their 3rd-level tint (left) and in their clear state (right).

About the 911 Federal Building

The 911 Federal Building in Portland, Ore., an eight-story building constructed in the 1950s, is the first GSA-owned property to earn the U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum certification for Existing Building. The building earned this certification for its new sustainable features, including a vegetated roof, advanced metering equipment, and an Energy Star rating of 96. Portland-area public transportation infrastructure also contributed to the building’s LEED Platinum-rating by facilitating reduced greenhouse gas emissions associated with employee commutes.

The building’s sustainable success also stems from green management practices used by the operations and maintenance staff, the custodial contractor’s commitment to buying and using green products, recycling, and energy and water reduction by all building occupants. Finally, major space consolidations that are currently underway on four floors will further contribute to taxpayer savings and building efficiencies.The building is located at 911 NE 11th Ave.

About the Green Proving Ground

The GPG program leverages GSA owned assets to conduct real-world evaluations of the performance of emerging building technologies that save energy, water, and money. GPG evaluations are used to recommend deployment strategies for GSA and for the U.S. commercial building industry. One of the greatest barriers to implementing new technologies is that few building owners are willing to take on the risk of being a test case for an unproven new product. GPG seeks to absorb some of this risk by facilitating the early adoption of promising technologies. More information about the program is available at www.gsa.gov/GPG.