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Energy-saving glass maker picks up $20 million

Same backers invest another round in Sage Electrochromics, the maker of electronically tintable and energy-saving glass products.

When turned off, the glass looks like any other. Sage Electrochromics

Sage Electrochromics, which makes energy-saving glass, has received $20 million in funding from Good Energies, Bekaert, and Applied Ventures, the venture capital arm of Applied Materials.

The three also financed Sage in 2007. The company, based near Minneapolis, Minn., will use the new round of funding to expand into international markets, CEO John Van Dine said in a statement Tuesday.

For those unfamiliar with electrochromic glass, the dual-pane glass works literally with the flip of a switch.

When an electrical current is applied to the internal glass pane of the window, which is coated in microscopic layers of ceramic material, ions from within the layers migrate from one layer to another causing the coating to tint. Turning off the current reverses the polarity of the voltage, causing the ions to move back to their respective layers and returning the glass to clear.

In its tinted state, the glass reduces the light and heat entering a room. It can also block 98 percent of the solar radiation that causes fading, according to the company. Sage's glass tints include green, blue, and gray.

When turned on, its tints reduces heat and light. Sage Electrochromics

The process takes a minimal amount of electricity. Roughly, the same amount of electricity it takes to power a 60-watt light bulb can power 1,500 square feet of Sage windows, according to the company.

While the windows work with a standard wall switch, for commercial buildings they can be controlled wirelessly and integrated with large systems to work in conjunction with thermostats, security systems, and motion sensors.

While Sage manufactures for commercial projects, the company is not actually a windows retailer. For residential customers, it supplies its specialty glass and control systems to Marvin Windows and Doors, Velux, and Weather-Tek.

Sage has applied its technology beyond windows, most recently for a commercial building that integrated solar panels into skylights.