Publication type: Conference other
Type of review: Peer review (abstract)
Title: Active façades : life cycle environmental impacts and savings of photovoltaic power plants integrated into the building envelope
Authors: Itten, René
Stucki, Matthias
Clua Longas, Angela
Cattaneo, Gianluca
et. al: No
Conference details: 36th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC), Marseille, France, 9-13 September 2019
Issue Date: 12-Sep-2019
Language: English
Subjects: Life cycle assessment; Photvoltaic; Building; Integration; Prevoskite; Greenhouse gas emission; Facade
Subject (DDC): 690: Building and construction
Abstract: 1. Aim and approach used Increased energy supply from photovoltaics is a main priority in the “Energy Strategy 2050”. Within the joint research project "Next generation photovoltaics" funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, we analysed different options for the enhanced integration of photovoltaic technologies into the envelope of Swiss buildings (BIPV). The PV modules for building integration are using novel monolithic silicon heterojunction organometallic perovskite tandem cells (SHJ-PSC) with adaptions to improve the visual acceptance. In a joint effort of product developers, architects and scientists, this project aimed at providing pathways for the wide-scale use of BIPV façade solutions, and developing integrated designs based on emerging high-efficiency module technologies to improve the visual aspect and acceptance of PV systems installed in Switzerland. These so-called active façades incorporating BIPV modules to generate electricity can provide a significant contribution to the energy transition away from fossil and nuclear fuels. We compared the environmental impacts of different façade construction systems with and without SHJ-PSC BIPV modules with improved visual design, using a prospective life cycle assessment with a time horizon of 2025. The comparison includes a conventional brick and roughcast façade, a timber frame façade, and the Advanced Active Façade (AAF), which integrates SHJ-PSC BIPV modules in a low embodied impact façade substructure. In addition, we compared the environmental impacts caused by the construction of the above described façades with the environmental impacts saved due to the electricity produced by BIPV modules incorporated into the AAF. 2. Scientific innovation and relevance Our research focuses on the combined expertise of life cycle thinking, PV module development and façade design. The major scientific innovations are: 1) the prospective life cycle assessment of novel monolithic silicon heterojunction organometallic perovskite tandem cells (SHJ-PSC); 2) the comparison of different façade construction systems and their environmental impacts; 3) the quantification of the saved environmental impacts arising from the electricity generated by the active façade; and 4) the visual adjustments of PV modules to improve their acceptance. The main advantage of integrating PV into building façades is the large available area, which can be limited on rooftops. In order to reach the market penetration for PV required for the energy transition, PV modules must be integrated into façades as well as into rooftops. 3. Results and conclusions An equilibrium must be achieved among different technical and aesthetic issues when integrating energy generation systems into the building envelope, especially into the façade for its public condition and exposure. Based on these prerequisites, the research team has developed the AAF which combines passive and active energy design strategies while meeting contemporary architectural requirements. This façade design is based on low-embodied-energy construction principles, it is defined by a non-loadbearing wood-panel substructure and it integrates a double layer of natural insulation: cellulose and wood-fibre. In addition, its design incorporates an opaque SHJ-PSC BIPV façade-cladding following contemporary façade design trends. (Figure 1). The use of photovoltaic modules integrated into the façade cladding or roof will increase the environmental impact of the building envelope, compared to using conventional construction materials. The environmental impacts of the AAF using PV modules are two to four times higher compared to a conventional façade. The PV modules cause the highest share of greenhouse gas emissions of the AAF with about 375 kg CO2-eq per square meter (see Figure 2). The additional materials required to build the AAF including exterior panels, insulation and other materials cause about 75 kg CO2-eq per square meter of façade. The brick and timber frame façades cause greenhouse gas emissions around 200 and 100 kg CO2-eq, respectively. If the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the PV module is excluded this will result in a reduction between 25 and 125 kg CO2-eq per square meter of façade. However, the environmental impacts of the AAF are significantly reduced if the whole life cycle is considered due to the PV electricity produced by the building. Therefore, we calculated the saved greenhouse gas emissions due to the electricity produced by the advanced active façade and fed to the European electricity grid using the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the current European electricity mix as reference. These calculated savings due to the electricity produced by the BIPV are about 4 times higher than the impacts of the advanced active façade. Incorporating BIPV panels into building’s façades will cause net savings of about 1700 kg CO2-eq per square meter over the whole life cycle of BIPV façades, while simultaneously saving up to 125 kg CO2-eq per square meter of façade for the reduced material demand to build the façade (see Figure 3). We performed this analysis for 16 different environmental impacts according to the recommended midpoints by the Joint Research Council of the European Commission. The results were comparable to greenhouse gas emissions with the net saved environmental impacts being many times higher for all the environmental impacts analysed except mineral resource use caused by the indium used in the novel SHJ-PSC tandem module (see Figure 4). To conclude, the use of PV modules in AAF can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions per square meter of façade between 25 and 60 % if the production of the PV module and its produced electricity are excluded. If the production and life cycle of the PV modules are included into the analysis the AAF will cause net greenhouse gas savings up to four times higher than the production of the AAF itself. The results for environmental impacts other than greenhouse gases were similar except for mineral resource depletion. Overall, the building integration of photovoltaic modules as AAF will reduce the environmental impacts of the building while simultaneously providing a visually appealing building envelope.
Fulltext version: Published version
License (according to publishing contract): Licence according to publishing contract
Departement: Life Sciences and Facility Management
Organisational Unit: Institute of Natural Resource Sciences (IUNR)
Published as part of the ZHAW project: PV2050: Sustainability, market deployment and interaction to the grid – the impacts of advanced PV solutions
Appears in collections:Publikationen Life Sciences und Facility Management

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