Solar Power and Architecture

3 November 2020 Posted by vmotta Solar Knowledge

In the world of architecture, the use of existing climatic conditions and natural resources, especially solar energy to minimize the energy consumption of a building, is known as bio-climatic architecture.

Solar architecture is understood as a type of architecture that seeks to control and optimize the energy performance of buildings, and thereby reduce their environmental impact, based on design criteria based on obtaining the maximum benefit from constructive elements and functional characteristics of the building, taking into consideration and taking full advantage of the climatic characteristics of the location where it is located.


The solar architecture can be considered Active or Passive.

Active Solar Architecture: refers to the use of solar energy by mechanical and/or electrical systems. This architecture uses active solar technology that is capable of transforming solar energy into usable heat. Some examples are: Panels, Covers, and Solar Heaters.

Passive Solar Architecture: passive solar architecture is understood as one that uses solar energy that is captured through windows or walls to maintain welfare conditions inside buildings and minimize the use of expensive and polluting systems of air conditioning, aspects such as: the orientation of the building, morphology, materials used and the location on the ground are taken care of.

Within the passive solar architecture, there are elements that favor and intensify the capture of solar energy, among them we can highlight: attached greenhouses and Trombe wall.

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Architects are key people in the implementation of new solar technologies and sustainability strategies in building. There is a fundamental need for change in our way of designing buildings and developing cities. We have to consider the energy consumption of each part of the construction process and focus during its life on the use of renewable energies and especially on solar energy.

These are some structures generate their own power and incorporate photo-voltaic arrays in creative ways.

  • The Further Education Center at Mont-Cernis: a roof canopy made from solar panels that generate electricity and shade the interior.
  • The Blauhaus at Niederrheim University: looks like it has a facade composed solely of blue glass, but closer inspection reveals that it’s actually a tessellation of windows and solar panels, which can be rotated to follow the sun.
  • The Science Pyramid at the Denver Botanic Gardens: is clad in gray hexagonal tile and solar panels that blend in with the pattern.
  • 36BTrd House: The structure is designed to promote cross breezes, and a photo-voltaic array is integrated with a roof–plus, it has a solar hot water system.
  • Stanford University Central Energy Facility: The structure elegantly obscures heavy-duty infrastructure with metal screens–and a shade trellis is actually a solar array that powers the entire building.
  • The Kathleen Grimm School for Leadership and Sustainability At Sandy Ground: New York City’s most environmentally friendly school is located on Staten Island.

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