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The green construction market is showing promising growth, and photovoltaics are a major part of this. Global trends are seeing all industries edging towards making the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Green buildings are becoming popular, as the demand for workplaces, homes, and commercial spaces that are carbon neutral or that can generate and rely on their own renewable energy supply increases.
Photovoltaics offer the opportunity to give buildings the capability to generate their own renewable power, which is why green construction is incorporating them into building design. In addition, photovoltaics are being used to power the construction of green buildings, making them truly green along every step of the way. Green buildings by definition should be environmentally responsible in their structure and in the processes that are used to build them.
What are Photovoltaics?
The process of generating electricity from photons of light is known as photovoltaics. Solar cells within solar panels are infiltrated with semiconducting materials that capture photons from sunlight, which has the impact of knocking electrons free from atoms, resulting in an electricity flow. This method is known as solar PV, and it is the fastest growing area of renewable energy worldwide.
Photovoltaics Used to Power Green Building Construction
By their nature, green buildings should, in theory, be constructed using methods that are also green. Powering construction with non-renewable energy subtracts from the environmental benefits offered by the green building. Currently, this is not the standard procedure for constructing green buildings. Previously, the establishment of renewable energy for temporary projects has been too expensive to be viable. However, new reports confirm that from 2020, renewable energy will be cheaper than non-renewable, and this will help with the widespread adoption of these energy sources as it becomes the more affordable option.
In addition to this, new developments are being made where projects have successfully created prefabricated buildings with solar panels incorporated into them that can be shipped to almost anywhere and put up in less than a few days. This development will have huge implications for the possibility of temporary solar farms, which could, in theory, be used to power temporary green building construction operations.
Photovoltaics Incorporated into Green Buildings
Modern architecture is adapting to the demand for green buildings, and as a result, buildings are being built that incorporate solar PV in innovative ways. Traditionally, solar panels are added to the rooves of homes and buildings in order to be in the best position to capture optimal light input. However, modern green buildings are exploring the possibilities of photovoltaics. Scientists are developing glass windows and walls that incorporate solar cells in order to generate electricity from the sun shining on these surfaces, rather than relying on traditional solar powered roofs.
In addition to this, solar panels are being constructed into other structures, such as disguising them as a trellis or as shades. Recently, some high profile green building projects have been completed which have shown the possibilities of incorporating solar PV. For example, AECOM designed the new LA Clippers stadium which generates its own solar energy to power operations within the building. Rather than just integrating a standard solar panel roof, the designers created a roof that resembles a basketball swishing through a net, using panels that are placed in a way to provide maximum energy efficiency.
We can expect research and development into photovoltaics to continue into the future, as the market for green buildings continues to grow, experts will continue to improve options for incorporating solar PV alongside it. Further to this, recent developments have made solar energy more available to power construction projects, which may mean in the near future green buildings are fully green, from construction to completion.