Most solar electric (photovoltaic, a.k.a. PV) is added onto existing buildings, typically mounted on the rooftop with clamps and ballast. That makes sense, because we have such a large inventory of existing buildings.
Most existing buildings buy more energy than necessary, because of waste within their existing heating, cooling and lighting systems. Newer buildings are generally more energy efficient.
But in the future, all kinds of great energy and resource efficiencies will be incorporated directly into new buildings from the start.
For example, why flush our toilets with new tap water, when we could use reprocessed gray or black water? Why water the lawn with new tap water, when we could use collected storm water? Why use lights all day, when you can harvest sunlight into interior spaces?
And why not turn the exterior of our buildings into power plants?
The future is already here in lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City. At least 6 new towers there integrate many new energy savings and energy producing measures, including--most visibly--BIPV or building integrated photovoltaics.
Rather than laying solar panels on a roof top, BIPV often means cladding the exterior façade of the building with architecturally suited panels. Residential towers have much more surface on their facades than on their roof. So using that façade makes good sense.
Anthony Pereira, founder of altPOWER Inc, has been a BIPV pioneer for many years and been involved in many of the new buildings in Battery Park City.
Here’s a short video of Anthony showing us some BIPV this week on the Solaire, the nation’s first environmentally responsible residential tower.
Since the Solaire was constructed in 2003, every new residential tower in Battery Park City has incorporated BIPV and a number of other energy innovations as well.
Would you integrate photovoltaics into your next new building?