Dutch firm, NBA architects, is leading the carbon neutral building revolution by incorporating Stion’s “Simply Better” frameless module into the design of its most recent project. Two five story residential apartment buildings, each with 48 individual units, will all be carbon neutral, including the elevator and the common room. The houses are also equipped with high efficiency water heat pumps and a heat recovery system – all powered by solar.
While most carbon neutral homes include solar modules, “what is unique about this project is that the solar modules are integrated into the building, so that you would not know the buildings have solar unless we told you…well that and your electric bill would be zero,” said NBA Architect Harold can de Ven.
Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) has been on the radar for many architects but few have actually developed projects using an integrated solar module. Many BIPV manufacturers are trying to figure out how to deposit thin layers of photovoltaic materials on glass, but still allow sunlight through, this is still prohibitively expensive. NBA took a different approach, by installing the panels vertically as a façade that will encase the entire building – except for areas with traditional windows that allow for natural sunlight.
While panels are typically installed on a south facing roof, increased efficiencies are enabling east-west installations. Stion’s module is ideal for installations that need to eek out every watt of power, as Stion’s CIGS solar modules generate increased energy when compared to crystalline silicon due to:
- Industry best temperature coefficient of -.26%/ºC that reduces energy production loss when temperatures increase
- Increased energy generation over time due to CIGS having no light induced (LID) or potential induced degradation (PID)
- Increased production in shaded environments
East-West facing arrays also have the benefit of extending the time period over the day during which energy is produced. “Rather than a large spike in production during the peak hours of the day, we smooth and extend the energy generation profile by installing the modules in east-west,” said Henrico van de Boomen, owner of EigenEnergie.net the largest CIGS distributor in Europe. East-West installations also minimize the amount of electricity needed to be net-metered, which can be beneficial for net metering policies that reimburse less for net-metered energy.