Supporting integration of photovoltaics in the building skin. A software tool for customized BIPV in a BIM-based process

Bonomo, Pierluigi and Frontini, Francesco and Hecker, Robert (2016) Supporting integration of photovoltaics in the building skin. A software tool for customized BIPV in a BIM-based process. In: Engineered Transparency 2016: Glass in Architecture and Structural Engineering Engineered Transparency, Düsseldorf.

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Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) means today the possibility for the building skin to produce renewable energy in a safe, reliable and affordable way. Façade engineering and planning plays a fundamental role in this challenge and BIPV, along with other innovative technologies and solutions, opens a concrete opportunity to address the target of nearly-Zero or Plus-Energy Building. Most of the BIPV applications in façades concern glazed systems where PV cells are included within a laminated glass (e.g. in curtain walls or structural façade). Integrating photovoltaic in surfaces of the building envelope, involves a strong integration of energy, electrical, architectural and construction requirements during the whole process, from early-design phase till to manufacturing and operation. A collaborative and integrated planning approach by architects, engineers and manufacturers becomes essential, so that the development of methods, models and tools oriented to optimally support an integrated planning and construction process (i.e. the BIM approach) is a crucial aspect of growing interest. In the framework of the European project Construct PV, the authors collaborated in developing a web-tool aimed to support, since the early design phase, the integrated design of a customizable BIPV component for the integration into the building skin, within an interoperable process based on Building Information Modeling (BIM). The tool allows the customization of both physical (light transmittance, power,..) and constructive (dimensions, layers,..) features with the goal to cover all the main possibilities in terms of product design, such as the module’s layering, the use of different materials (such as different glass types), the shape, the cell’s arrangement, etc. with the result to define a 3D geometry of the component in a realistic graphic environment. The second step focused on developing a plug-in to create interoperability with a BIM-based process. The research is expected to cover a first step for supporting the design of advanced systems of building envelope including customized BIPV elements for transparent façade, in the perspective of an integrated approach ensuring quality, transparency and time/cost benefits.

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