Accurate Building Integrated Photovoltaic System (BIPV) Architectural Design Tool

EPA Grant Number: SU831895
Title: Accurate Building Integrated Photovoltaic System (BIPV) Architectural Design Tool
Investigators: Singh, Pritpal
Current Investigators: Singh, Pritpal , Raskauskas, Mary , Kantamsetti, Shveta , Torres, Vanessa
Institution: Villanova University
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2004 through May 31, 2005
Project Amount: $7,066
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


One of the leading areas of renewable energy applications for the twenty-first century is building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). Integrating photovoltaics into building structures allows the costs of the PV system to be partially offset by the solar modules also serving a structural role in the building. Although PV building modules and facades are currently in use around the world, existing design tools for such systems are inadequate in terms of their accuracy and user-friendliness for building designers. Shading and reflection factors are two substantial variables in calculating system energy output. However, existing system design and simulation tools generally omit the effects of reflections from multiple surfaces and shading of solar panels.


Our project aims to create a “user friendly” software package that may be used to accurately design BIPV systems for use by architects to predict the performance of such systems. This package would allow the user to input their building location and information on surrounding buildings and receive accurate predictions on energy production.


The project is divided into three phases, including: i) computer modeling of the solar resource available to the BIPV system at different times of the day and year including reflection and shading effects of surrounding buildings; ii) computer modeling of the BIPV system itself; and iii) validation of the computer modeling through comparison of the simulated performance of the system with measurements made on a scaled physical model of the system.

Expected Results:

P3 aspects of the project will be incorporated into the education of students in several ways including seminars and lectures through Villanova’s Center for the Environment, through a new proposed senior elective course open to all engineering majors, and through extra-curricular activities in organizations such as Villanova Environmental Group and Villanova’s Chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

Supplemental Keywords:

sustainable development, renewable energy, pollution prevention, modeling, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Chemistry and Materials Science, Environmental Engineering, energy conservation, clean energy, green design, computer models, green building design, alternative building technology, energy efficiency, energy technology, solar energy, alternative energy source, photovoltaics, environmentally conscious design, architectual design

Relevant Websites:

BIPV design tool Exit
Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report