Active BIPV Glass facades: current trends of innovation, between new semantics and technological possibilities

On the path towards the implementation of nearly zero-energy buildings, the integration of photovoltaics in buildings (BIPV) is contributing to the achievement of the energy goals. In detail, the use of glass BIPV modules is improving due to the fact that they can replace almost every conventional building material, contributing actively to the building energy balance. But, is the transfer of the PV in architecture only a matter of energy? Certainly not. Along with the multi-functionality of the building skin, BIPV involves a new aesthetics in contemporary architecture. Thanks to innovations in glass development and customization, a wide range of architectural languages arises in current applications, that can be used for BIPV solution, ranging from the semantics of solar cells to the technological mimicry.

The aim of this paper is to describe the current researches and trends of innovation in the use of glass BIPV modules for the building facades, through the discussion of some pilot case studies collected by the Swiss BIPV Competence Center (www.bipv.ch). Moreover, this study will create a platform for a primary discussion aimed to describe the innovative factors for the technological transfer of the PV glazing elements in the built environment.