What’s BIPV?

And why not turn the exterior of our buildings into power plants? The future is already here in lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City.

Most solar electric (photovoltaic, a.k.a. PV) is added onto existing buildings, typically mounted on the rooftop with clamps and ballast. That makes sense, because we have such a large inventory of existing buildings.

Most existing buildings buy more energy than necessary, because of waste within their existing heating, cooling and lighting systems. Newer buildings are generally more energy efficient. 

But in the future, all kinds of great energy and resource efficiencies will be incorporated directly into new buildings from the start.

For example, why flush our toilets with new tap water, when we could use reprocessed gray or black water? Why water the lawn with new tap water, when we could use collected storm water? Why use lights all day, when you can harvest sunlight into interior spaces?

And why not turn the exterior of our buildings into power plants?

The future is already here in lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City.  At least 6 new towers there integrate many new energy savings and energy producing measures, including--most visibly--BIPV or building integrated photovoltaics.

Rather than laying solar panels on a roof top, BIPV often means cladding the exterior façade of the building with architecturally suited panels. Residential towers have much more surface on their facades than on their roof.  So using that façade makes good sense.

Anthony Pereira, founder of altPOWER Inc, has been a BIPV pioneer for many years and been involved in many of the new buildings in Battery Park City.

Here’s a short video of Anthony showing us some BIPV this week on the Solaire, the nation’s first environmentally responsible residential tower.

Since the Solaire was constructed in 2003, every new residential tower in Battery Park City has incorporated BIPV and a number of other energy innovations as well. 

Would you integrate photovoltaics into your next new building? 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Leo Wiegman August 20, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Governor Cuomo has just signed bill as part of the NY-Sun initiative that will make solar energy more affordable for homeowners and businesses as well as create new jobs in the state’s growing solar energy sector. http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/08172012-affordable-solar-power Specifically, the bill erases state sales tax on photovoltaic investments by businesses. The law exempts the sale and installation of commercial solar energy systems equipment from sales taxes, and allows municipalities and cities to exclude these costs from local sales tax. Up to now, a factory or office building owner renovating a roof and placing a photovoltaic system on that new roof does not pay sales tax on the new roof, but does have to pay sales tax for the new photovoltaic system that sits on the roof. The sales tax exemption for PV brings the policy in line with the sales tax exemption granted for most capital improvements. This sales tax exemption can save a commercial property owner about $80,000 on a $1 million PV system investment. This exemption goes into effect January 1, 2013. This clause goes into effect immediately. Here is what SEIA says about the NY-Sun initiative: http://www.seia.org/news/seia-statement-new-york-governor-cuomo-signs-legislation-promote-solar-energy
Leo Wiegman August 20, 2012 at 01:13 PM
The NY-Sun Initiative signed by Cuomo also has benefits for homeowners seeking to install solar electric systems. In addition, the bill provides statewide tax credits for homeowners who obtain solar equipment through a lease or a power purchase agreement, where the agreement spans at least ten years. The tax credit would be available for up to 14 years with a maximum of $5,000 for all years. The use of solar leases and power purchase agreements has grown significantly over the past few years as alternatives to traditional purchase of solar energy generating systems. This new finance approach has the potential to significantly increase the pace of solar energy installations, as it often reduces or eliminates upfront costs to the customer.


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