Sustainable manufacturing and environmentally friendly products mean far more than a stamp of approval for carbon-conscious customers. But many industries are finding sustainability requirements increasingly demanding and difficult to navigate. In the UK alone, the built environment accounts for approximately a third of the region’s carbon emissions, so new technology is continually being sought out that not only makes manufacturing and construction more sustainable, but allows buildings to be more energy efficient.
The challenges that the building industry face don’t stop here. One lesson that was learnt during extended lockdown periods was the importance of healthy buildings – the focus on supporting people’s physical, psychological, and social wellbeing, especially in locations such as office buildings or hospitals.
Eyrise, part of Merck group, is a company that takes building health and sustainability seriously. In fact, the pioneering company offers two innovative solutions that have revolutionised indoor environments.
Eyrise s350 is a switchable glass product that allows users to control how much light and heat passes through the glass on-demand or via a building management system. This solar shading, colour neutral, dynamic liquid crystal technology not only reduces heat inside the building (for lower cooling costs), but it creates a healthy work environment that employers have found leads to less absenteeism and staff burn-out.
Eyrise i350, meanwhile, allows users to instantly switch between full transparency and privacy glass. This liquid crystal technology is ideal for office environments as it allows workers to switch between a bright, open workplace and a private space in an instant.
From science-fiction to reality
Switchable glass technology isn’t new, but often these solutions fail to provide a neutral colour and true adaptivity to changing weather conditions. Eyrise ensures crystal clear glass technology, seamless switching between states, reduced energy costs, product longevity, and a healthy work environment.
But how did a technology that seems in the remit of science fiction novels end up a reality, and a marketable one at that? Design Build Network spoke with Jasper van den Muijsenberg, head of technical support at Eyrise, to find out more.
“For Eyrise s350 solar shading, we incorporate a mixture of liquid crystals and dyes between two sheets of glass, and by doing that we are able to change the transmission of the glass and control the amount of light and the amount of energy going into a building,” says van den Muijsenberg.
“We are a key player in liquid crystals, so we use all that knowledge and incorporate that into the architecture space. By using this liquid crystal technology, we can switch in less than a second. The other big advantage is that it is colour neutral, so you don’t get a distorted view.”
Eyrise glass does not require maintenance beyond normal cleaning duties, and as a long-lasting solution it is more environmentally friendly than its competition. The environmental benefits don’t stop there, as Eyrise s350 can also reduce lighting and temperature control costs for indoor spaces.
According to van den Muijsenberg: “Not working on sustainability is not an option anymore, so it’s the core competency of the product. Our products fulfil the standards of EPD: Environmental Product Declaration. When we developed our product using liquid crystal, we used a minimal amount of material. If you compare it to a blinds system for example, we use much less material, hence our carbon footprint is a lot lower.
“At the other end, the key topic here is what it does to a building’s environment and the potential savings. Using Eyrise s350, you can save on lighting and cooling, but it’s also about the wellbeing of the people in those buildings. A factor that Merck always stands for is improving people’s lives, and by using our technology we also give comfort. In fact, we have studies that show that by using our glass, customers can create a more comfortable workspace for their employees.”
Burnout is an ongoing issue in the modern world, so the importance of a healthy working environment with natural light cannot be understated. In the long-term, comfortable workspaces lead to healthier, happier, and more productive employees.
Doing things differently
When it came to entering the privacy glass market, progress was slower, due largely to preconceived ideas around its effectiveness.
“For the privacy glass, we had a challenge coming into a market where commonly used PDLC technology is known to have a lower quality reputation.” Muijsenberg explains. “These are liquid crystals embedded into polymer foils, which hinders their movement. But Eyrise places the liquid crystal material between glass sheets, which makes them move much more freely and offer full transparency. Since we launched in March, we’ve had to explain to customers that we’re doing something different, and they’re always pleasantly surprised.
“When it comes to research and development, the building industry has a tendency to be careful with trying out new products. What we did with our i350 product is combine technology that is already available, and we looked at a new application and made it fit to market demands, particularly extending the product’s lifetime.”
Collaboration in a building lifecycle management environment means that customers are looking to suppliers for the best quality products with reduced waste, risk and cost. Product longevity is part of this, so Eyrise products not only require no specialised maintenance, but are also built to last.
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