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Integrating Solar Technology into Facades, Skylights, Roofing, and Other Building Elements

Integrating Solar Technology into Facades, Skylights, Roofing, and Other Building Elements

Climate change remains a foremost concern in global politics, economics, and scientific research, particularly as it pertains to the architecture and construction industries. This heightened culpability for the field of architecture stems from the fact that the construction industry contributes to 40% of global emissions, and the demand in the building sector is only projected to increase by 70% by 2050. Renewable energy is part of a 21st-century sustainability paradigm that responds to climate change and environmental degradation, strengthening the momentum for global energy transformation. Renewable energy production strategies are necessary to mitigate future energy security issues as traditional sources of fuel become increasingly scarce, and an indispensable part of designing for sustainability in architecture.

To address growing global concerns around climate change and renewable energy, the solar company Mitrex has created innovative systems that can be adapted and integrated critically and creatively in order to address new and age-old challenges related to issues of sustainability.

Historically, solar energy harvesting has been expensive, relatively inefficient, and hampered by poor design. Existing building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) have proven to be less practical and economically unfeasible for large-scale adoption due to design limitations and poor aesthetics. New tools and technologies, both for building design and construction, have come to assist architects in the creation of buildings that generate their own energy and are self-sustaining. 

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Courtesy of Mitrex

Mitrex solar systems can be integrated within a building envelope in order to generate power while simultaneously enhancing the spatial, aesthetic, and functional qualities of a project of architecture. They replace conventional building materials for the whole or part of the building envelope including facades, skylights, roof areas, and other external building elements, while often costing the same as the materials they would replace. From this perspective, renewable energy systems can be integrated as functional, aesthetic, and cost-effective elements within buildings.

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Courtesy of Mitrex

For example, the company has designed lightweight solar cladding that can be customized to any construction and design needs, conform to desired angles and panel size, and mimic any material in the world, including natural finishes such as marble and wood, as well as man-made materials like cement and porcelain. These aesthetic options are complemented by a range of different colors, patterns, an textures accomplished through the use of a customizable facing. Furthermore, these solar cladding modules are frameless and produced in a range of shapes and sizes with near-seamless edges that provide further adaptability for architects. This immense design flexibility contrasts the stringent restrictions of traditional solar panels, which are limited in size and shapes and not well suited to design integration.

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Solar Cladding / Solar Glass. Image Courtesy of Mitrex
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Solar Cladding. Image Courtesy of Mitrex

Mitrex Solar Glass was also created with design in mind, replacing regular glass without compromising on performance and functionality. This element can be integrated into windows, bus stop shelters, skylights, curtainwalls, and railings (to name a few) by maximizing energy production on otherwise unused surfaces. SolaRail, for example, is a BIPV glass railing product with options for transparency levels, and metal handrails and posts that functions as an aesthetic and effective means of generating solar energy for building use.

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SolaRail™. Image Courtesy of Mitrex

In particular, in dense urban areas where space is limited, Solar Glass offers an economical and architecturally sound opportunity to incorporate renewable energy into slender high-rises. These products use advanced transparent or opaque solar technology, which allows for full customization of tints, transparency, and size while maximizing the amount of energy produced. In addition, Solar Glass has seamlessly integrated circuitry and connection points for all electrical components to ensure a smooth appearance, thus not interfering with structural aesthetics.

Integrating Solar Technology into Facades, Skylights, Roofing, and Other Building Elements - Image 6 of 12
Courtesy of Mitrex

However, these products are not only designed for large companies and expensive high-rises. Mitrex’s Solar Roof is designed to look essentially indistinguishable from traditional roofing materials such as asphalt and slate shingles, while simultaneously generating clean energy. The product allows single-family homeowners a means of reducing their carbon footprint and grid reliance. Lower-density homes with solar roofs are not a new phenomenon; however, recent technological advances give builders and architects the option of adopting green initiatives without compromising a home’s design. Solar Roof systems come in a range of UV-stable, fade-resistant colors and patterns in keeping with design needs. Helpfully, no specialized installation is required, and once installed, their elements require no maintenance because they are treated with an anti-soiling coating that reduces the accumulation of dust and dirt on surfaces.

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Courtesy of Mitrex

These technologies hold the potential to produce a tangible effect on energy use and sustainability efforts wherever they are implemented. The widespread adoption of building integrated solar modules has the potential to not only reduce the carbon footprint of a city, but also to address the growing demand and insufficient supply of energy. To get a better idea, a typical 30-story building with Mitrex integrated solar technology produces approximately 13 million kWh of energy, offsetting 9,500 metric tons of CO2 over 30 years. The impact of large-scale adoption could be historic.

Cite: "Integrating Solar Technology into Facades, Skylights, Roofing, and Other Building Elements" 02 Jun 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/961422/integrating-solar-technology-into-facades-skylights-roofing-and-other-building-elements> ISSN 0719-8884
Courtesy of Mitrex

太阳能技术:在不同建筑元素中的应用

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