Recharging the Facade: Designing and Constructing Novel BIPV Assemblies

SMArchS Thesis, Building Technology, Spring 2013

Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) have been the subject of research and design applications for several decades. While some large-scale applications have been realized, prohibitively high costs and multiple technical complexities persist. A main cause of these challenges is a lack of system-level design and engineering of photovoltaic (PV) systems coupled with traditional methods of building construction. PV installation remains a highly specialized construction practice and is typically completed by skilled experts in the field who deal with intricate electrical connections like wiring to batteries and inverters. This complicated installation process, in addition to other soft costs like permitting and system components, account for approximately fifty percent of the overall cost of a solar power system. In order to address these issues, the installation of photovoltaic systems must be simplified and streamlined.This thesis presents the design, development, and construction of two novel BIPV products. One is integrated with masonry construction, and the other is integrated with pre-fabricated panel construction. By developing power-generating building products that integrate with common methods of construction, existing issues of cost, complexity, and low market acceptance are challenged.

First image: Photo by CDRD Project Somalia Block