Sustainability

Net Zero Buildings with Integrated Photovoltaics

Net Zero Buildings with Integrated Photovoltaics

The global news cycle is dominated by stories of heatwaves, extended power outages, droughts and extreme weather events. These all serve as reminders of the impacts of climate change and the importance of implementing large-scale clean energy solutions. Net zero buildings serve as a solution to reducing carbon emissions.

Currently, the building and construction industry is responsible for contributing greatly to the global climate crisis. Construction emissions consist of approximately 40% of all global emissions. In fact, cement alone accounts for about 8% of these emissions. This staggering figure is expected to increase, with enough buildings equal to the size of Paris constructed weekly.

Due to its immense contribution to greenhouse gases, this industry is an obvious place to look at when reducing emissions. Solar is one of many renewable energy sources. However, the industry has not been able to offer viable, large-scale solutions to ensure mass adoption. Net zero buildings are an obvious solution to reducing emissions. Mitrex can provide net zero buildings with building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).

Barriers To Solar Energy Adoption

Many existing BIPV applications have not been practical for large-scale use because of the lack of creative control. Solar technology typically lacks aesthetics, design freedom, functionality and affordability. Typically, solar panel installations are limited to rooftops or solar farms.

Although the price of solar has been consistently decreasing, the high demand of space required will always limit large-scale adoption. In addition, plenty of idle vertical spaces exist in the building industry that can be used to generate clean energy.

Overall, we must reinvent the policies around net zero building and look to alternatives in the market.

Integrated Solar Solutions Provide Net Zero Buildings

Innovations like building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) provide a solution by allowing solar to be built into structures. Integrated solar, such as solar building envelopes or balcony railings, building constructors can contribute to net zero buildings.

As we continue to build vertically, integrated solar materials can extend energy generation to structure’s exteriors. This technology produces green energy, largely reducing buildings’ contribution to emissions, and paving the way to net zero buildings.

The integration of renewable technology into typical building materials at an affordable rate via mass production and automation can accelerate the fight against global warming. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global goal, and large-scale integration to create net zero buildings is one way we can begin to fulfill this mission.

Combating Embodied Carbon

Another solution to minimize the dependency on fossil fuels and lean towards a greener future begins with carbon-neutral building materials. The carbon used to fabricate, transport and install construction materials is a significant portion of building emissions.

The construction industry needs to take a carbon-sensitive approach when addressing the issue associated with traditional building materials. While building owners might be hesitant to transition their energy reliance to renewable sources, utilizing materials that have a smaller carbon footprint is one of the biggest steps we can take toward solving our emissions problem. Innovations like bricks that are made of construction site waste and lighter building materials that use less energy to transport are some things in the industry that embody this concept.

Regardless of whether you are a designer, a builder or a politician, our common goal should be to find a way to mitigate climate change and shift towards a greener future and industry. We can successfully accomplish this goal if key sectors cut down and minimize their reliance on carbon.

The Road To Net-Zero Buildings

Reaching the 2050 net-zero carbon emissions goal that The Department of Energy has put forth is possible with the right approaches and the right solutions in mind. It is abundantly clear that wide-scale adoption of renewable energy to create net zero buildings can help us in the transition.

As urban centers continue to grow, integrated solar technology and policies that encourage things like solar adoption and limiting carbon embodiment can play a vital role in creating sustainable cities. Making moves like replacing highly carbonated building materials with alternatives and pushing institutional changes can help ensure the reversal of climate change at its most catastrophic peak.

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