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Solar Energy: The Latest Architecture and News

MVRDV's Sun Rock Project Is a Built Manifesto for Renewable Energy

MVRDV ‘s latest project designed for government-owned power company Taipower is “a tool for energy production”, communicating Taiwan’s goal of transitioning to green energy. The morphology of the project and its architectural image are entirely data-driven, the expression of the most efficient way of generating solar energy on the site. An operations facility comprising offices, a maintenance workshop, storage spaces, and a public gallery, the project is defined as a “built manifesto”, projecting the company’s aspirations for achieving a “carbon-free future”.

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Building-Integrated Photovoltaics Can Lead to Net-Positive Construction

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The building construction industry currently accounts for 40% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, due to its high carbon embodiment and carbonated energy demands. Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) is a sustainable solution to address these concerns and to contribute to a net-positive world. This advanced technology can be utilized in solar building envelopes, skylights, windows, and balcony railings to produce green energy. 

Solar Panels in Residential Projects: Efficiency Without Compromising the Aesthetics

Including sustainable strategies in architectural projects is not just a trend, it is a necessity. Each day we become more aware of the importance of responsibly managing natural resources and understanding the environmental factors involved in designing a project.

Solar energy is one of the most commonly employed strategies in residential architecture, both active and passive. Many countries around the world offer incentives to encourage the use of solar systems, and the benefits of installing these systems can be seen in a short period of time, with a reduction of up to 95% in the monthly energy expenses, which makes this strategy one of the most attractive of all sustainable solutions. Furthermore, the average lifespan of a solar panel is 25 years, operating entirely on its own and requiring only basic cleaning once a year.

Solar Panels in Residential Projects: Efficiency Without Compromising the AestheticsSolar Panels in Residential Projects: Efficiency Without Compromising the AestheticsSolar Panels in Residential Projects: Efficiency Without Compromising the AestheticsSolar Panels in Residential Projects: Efficiency Without Compromising the Aesthetics+ 15

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

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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.

Solar Design: How Architecture and Energy Come Together

Solar design in contemporary architecture is rooted in the profession's sustainable turn. The relationship between architecture and energy is tied to both passive strategies and performance via more recent innovations in technology. As one way to begin addressing the global climate crisis and greenhouse gas emissions, solar design is reshaping cities and architecture around the world.

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What are 'The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly' of Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Systems?

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Courtesy of AEC Daily
Courtesy of AEC Daily

As concern grows regarding the contribution of fossil fuels to global warming, solar energy is an increasingly attractive power source due to its zero emissions and infinite supply. As builders turn to incorporate solar energy systems into their projects, many options are available to harness the power of the sun for commercial and industrial installations. While AEC Daily’s course on “The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly” of rooftop solar photovoltaic systems might not be a 1960s spaghetti western, it will guide you through the wild west of installation processes and options.

How Does Photovoltaic Energy Work?

Once restricted to space stations and satellites, photovoltaics are now gaining popularity and becoming an increasingly viable option. Every day, the sun releases an enormous amount of energy, far more than the entire population consumes. Being that the sun is a sustainable, renewable, and inexhaustible source for generating electricity, not using it seems almost counter-intuitive, especially considering the social and environmental impacts of other forms of energy generation. But the technology to create electricity from the sun is by no means simple and still has some limitations, the most significant being price. The following article attempts to explain some basic concepts about this process, and to highlight important considerations for designing a solar energy system. 

Snøhetta Completes Powerhouse Brattørkaia

Located in Trondheim, Norway, Powerhouse Brattørkaia, the world’s northernmost energy-positive building, designed by Snøhetta challenges the traditional notions of construction and puts in place new standards for buildings that produce more energy than they consume.

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Rwanda’s Bugesera International Airport to Set Records for Sustainability

Rwanda’s largest publicly funded project, Bugesera International Airport is on track to be the first certified green building in the region. A few pieces of this net zero emission complex include: a 30,000 square metre passenger terminal, 22 check-in counters, ten gates, and six passenger boarding bridges. Funded by Public Private Partnership, the project is cost estimated at $414 million USD. The international hub was only one of several initiatives discussed by the Africa Green Growth Forum (AGGF) in Kigali at the end of last year.

California Approves Rule Requiring Solar Panels on New Homes

The California Building Standards Commission has approved a new rule starting in 2020 that requires all new homes built in the state to include solar panels. As the first of its kind in the United States, the new rule includes an incentive for homeowners to add a high-capacity battery to their electrical system. The move hopes to help meet the state's goal of sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions while drawing all electricity from renewable energy sources.

The Beauty of Pre-Oxidized Copper Through 8 Facades

Patinated copper, also called oxidized, is a metal coat that "ages well" with excellent weathering resistance. Due to its capacity for transformation over time, when coming into contact with atmospheric conditions, the material does not require major maintenance, giving a unique aspect to the facades.

In addition to orange-colored plates, this material also gives off a blue / green appearance through a controlled chemical oxidation process. Its coloration is defined by the amount of crystals contained in the surface of the material. With the appearance of natural light, the panels display various shades and nuances of color.

The University of British Columbia's Bacteria-Driven Solar Cell Can Produce Energy Under Cloudy Skies

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have unveiled details of their recently-designed “bacteria-powered solar cell” capable of converting light to energy, even in overcast conditions.

Hailed as a “cheap, sustainable” method of renewable energy extraction, the cell can generate a current stronger than any previously recorded from similar devices. Development of the cell opens new possibilities for typically-overcast regions such as British Columbia and Northern Europe, where the world's first solar panel road debuted in France.

Vincent Callebaut Architectures Wins Public Vote for Millennial Vertical Forest Competition

For the "Imagine Angers" international design competition, Vincent Callebaut Architectures worked in collaboration with Bouygues Immobilier group to submit a proposal for the French city at the intersection of social and technological innovation, with a focus on ecology and hospitality. Named Arboricole, meaning “tree” and “cultivation,” this live-work-play environment gives back as much to the environment as it does its users. Although WY-TO prevailed in the competition, the Callebaut scheme succeeded in winning the public vote.

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IKEA Launches Home Solar Battery to Take on Tesla

A new challenger has stepped into the ring of home solar batteries, and it’s a name you may recognize: global furniture retailer IKEA.

A competitor to Tesla’s now-available Powerwall home battery and solar roof system, IKEA’s home battery will be first sold in the UK, where owners of solar-powered homes can typically only sell excess energy produced back to the national grid at a loss. The battery pack will instead allow that power to be stored for later use, helping homeowners reduce their electricity bills by as much as 70 percent.

Tesla's Solar Roof System to Begin Taking Orders Next Month

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced via Twitter that his company’s fully-integrated solar roof system is nearly ready to be released to the public, and will begin taking orders on the shingles starting next month.

The solar roof project was announced this past October after acquiring energy services provider SolarCity for $2.1 billion. Offered in four different styles – smooth glass, textured glass, French slate and Tuscan glass – the shingles would allow homeowners to make the switch to solar without having to change their aesthetic tastes. Though exact costs have yet to be released, Musk believes the system could be more affordable than a traditional roof.

Tesla Debuts Massive Energy-Storing Solar Farm on Hawaiian Island

Tesla has completed a massive, 55,000-panel solar farm on the Hawaiian island of Kauai that will allow them to experiment with medium-term energy storage at a utility scale. Hooked up to the farm are 272 of the company’s lithium Powerpacks, which are capable of storing of combined 52 megawatt-hours of power.

5 Techniques to Incorporate Solar Panels into Your Architecture Beautifully (Not as an Ugly Afterthought)

This article was originally published by Autodesk's Redshift publication as "5 Ways to Design Solar Architecture Beautifully—Not as an Ugly Afterthought."

No one puts solar panels on their house because they’re sexy—at least, not yet.

Jon Gardzelewski, an architect and associate lecturer at the University of Wyoming in the Building Energy Research Group (UW-BERG), wants to change that. He believes the fact that solar panels are usually an afterthought to the design of a building is a big barrier to integrating them into a critical mass of houses and buildings.