Wind Energy

Solar Thermal

Zero-Energy Buildings


Photovoltaics (PV) is a solid-state technology that produces electricity directly from the sun. Solar cells and photovoltaic arrays capture energy from the sun to power homes and buildings, silently, with no moving parts, no waste, and no depletion of resources.

Solar panels on the roof of IBEW Headquarters, Washington, D.C.  Tiger Woods Learning Center has electric glass curtainwall
PV systems can be installed on a roof, or integrated directly into the building envelope.

Some uses of photovoltaics in buildings:
Daylighting is employed extensively at the University of Oregon Business School
SDA specified sunshades for SUNY Albany
Mitre Corporation uses solar canopies for aesthetic and practical purposes
U.S. Mission to the U.N., Geneva
Avoiding direct-beam sunlight, daylighting uses indirect light to deliver a distributed natural lighting to interior spaces. Positioned on buildings to create shadow and keep the sun off glass, sunshades reduce cooling load and glare. For parking areas, walkways and other outdoor spaces, solar canopies produce power and protect from rain and sun. Building Integrated Photovoltaics builds PV technology directly into the envelope or exterior weather skin of a building.

Photovoltaics in the Built Environment

SDA President
Steven Strong

The last two decades have brought significant change to the design profession. Awareness of the environmental impact of our work as design professionals has dramatically increased in the wake of heightened concerns over pollution, environmental degradation and resource depletion, as well as traumatic escalations in energy prices, shortages, embargoes and war.
The built environment is responsible for a large percentage of energy consumption. Architects are responsible for a large percentage of the built environment.

Architects and engineers with vision know that the goal of good design is no longer simply to create buildings that are aesthetically pleasing - they must be environmentally responsive as well. Beyond merely limiting non-renewable fuels and generating less pollution, architects must also design 21st century buildings to produce some and, eventually, all of their own energy. We create these zero-energy or carbon-neutral buildings using a broad range of renewable resources, including solar electricity, wind and solar thermal.

One of the most promising of the renewable energy technologies is photovoltaics. Photovoltaics (PV) is a truly elegant means of producing electricity on site, directly from the sun, without concern for energy supply or environmental harm. Solar cells, solid-state devices that drive PV systems, make electricity out of sunlight, silently, with no maintenance, no pollution and no depletion of materials.

There is a growing consensus that distributed photovoltaic systems that provide electricity at the point of use will be the first to reach widespread commercialization. Chief among these distributed applications are PV power systems for individual buildings.

Worldwide, interest is burgeoning in building integration of photovoltaics, whereby PV elements actually become an integral part of the building, often serving as the exterior weather skin. SDA has collaborated with many innovative designers to create buildings that produce electricity from sun. Examples include:

PV specialists and innovative designers in Europe, Japan and the US are now exploring creative ways of incorporating solar electricity into their work. A whole new vernacular of Solar Electric Architecture has emerged.

Join this group of visionary designers. Contact SDA to explore your design opportunities.
Our collaborative efforts can integrate these exciting renewable energy systems into future building success.