Building Integrated Solar: Adjusting to Changes in Environmental Policies


October 27, 2023

Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) have emerged as one of the leading solutions in the transition to a more sustainable built environment. As both the US and Canada toughen their environmental policies and regulations, building integrated solar stands out as a key tool to ensure compliance and drive the green agenda.

Environmental Policies in the US & Canada

In recent years, both the US and Canada have set ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions and transition to a more sustainable energy mix. The US's Clean Power Plan aims to cut carbon pollution from power plants, pushing for a more substantial reliance on renewable energy. Canada, on the other hand, has pledged under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Key to this is the greening of the building sector, which accounts for nearly 12% of the total national greenhouse gas emissions.

How Building Integrated Solar Aligns with Policy Goals

  • Energy Efficiency: BIPV transforms buildings into energy producers. Instead of merely consuming energy, structures fitted with building integrated solar can generate electricity, effectively reducing their carbon footprint. This aligns with both countries' goals of enhancing energy efficiency in new constructions and retrofitted buildings.
  • Carbon Reduction: With buildings playing a significant role in carbon emissions, especially in urban settings, integrating photovoltaics directly into building materials aids in offsetting carbon footprints. Buildings can produce clean energy on-site, minimizing the reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Flexibility & Aesthetics: Traditional solar panels may not be feasible for every building, especially in historic or densely packed urban areas. building integrated solar offers aesthetic solutions that can seamlessly integrate into the architectural design, ensuring that even buildings in challenging settings can contribute to energy production.
  • Economic Benefits: Building integrated solar can significantly reduce energy costs for building owners. Furthermore, with the US and Canada offering tax credits and incentives for renewable energy initiatives, BIPV investments can yield considerable long-term financial returns.

Adapting to the Changing Landscape

With stringent environmental regulations on the horizon, architects, builders, and policymakers need to collaborate and champion solutions like BIPV. Cities like San Francisco have already mandated the installation of solar systems on new buildings. We can expect similar policies to emerge across North America, given the climate imperatives.Innovations in BIPV, including solar facades and solar railings, are continually expanding the possibilities. As the technology advances and becomes more affordable, building integrated solar potential to help the US and Canada meet their environmental goals becomes even more pronounced.As the US and Canada continue to evolve their environmental policies, the building sector cannot remain a passive player. BIPV offers a promising pathway, not just for compliance but for pioneering the sustainable cities of the future. It’s high time stakeholders across the spectrum embrace building integrated solar as more than a trend but as a cornerstone of the next green architectural era.

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