Benefits of Solar Energy in Construction

Green energy practices are becoming the norm across all industries and sectors; and construction is no exception. As technology becomes more and more advanced, green energy practices like solar energy are now easier to install and more frequently utilized. Here are some examples of how solar energy is being used in modern architecture and construction.

History of solar energy

But first, some history! Harnessing the power of the sun actually long predates the invention of solar panels; early civilizations like the Greeks and Romans successfully manipulated sunlight to control and regulate the temperatures of buildings. This practice, also called “solar passive heating”, was so effective that entire cities were designed to allow every home access to sunlight for warmth in the winter.
Fast forward to 1839, when nineteen-year-old French physicist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel created the first photovoltaic cell (i.e., a solar cell that carries an electric current from light). This technique of harnessing electric power from sunlight has led to the development of solar panels as we know them today and all but invented clean energy practices.

Solar energy in modern construction

As green energy practices continue to take over the construction industry, more and more modern construction projects are being designed to utilize solar energy. Solar power is by far the fastest growing form of energy in the United States, which can be attributed to low prices, supportive public policies, and more accessibility for commercial and residential uses. Here are a few examples of modern construction projects that feature solar energy:
The new 1.1-million-square-feet campus for Google contains three main structures that feature one-of-a-kind “dragon scale” solar skin roofs equipped with 50,000 silver solar panels that generate a total of nearly seven megawatts of energy.
Famed Scandinavian architecture studio CF Møller designed the Copenhagen International School to include 12,000 solar panels mirroring the waterfront side. The arrangement of the panels not only creates a sparkling sequin-like effect, but it also generates over 50% of the electricity needed to power the building every single year.
Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino may look like something from outer space, but is actually made up of three eco-friendly structures. The main building is a huge ring hosting one of the world’s largest rooftop solar farms, which generates enough power to meet 75% of the campus’ energy demand.
Tesla has constructed not only the futuristic centerpiece of its electric car empire, but also the world’s largest building by acreage (126 acres). This facility is also using “net-zero” energy, utilizing natural gas pipelines and solar panels across the roof, to generate all the building’s power.
Companies like Google and Tesla investing in solar energy sets a great example for all construction innovations in the future. Because as technology advances become more sophisticated, thankfully our planet stands to benefit. Implementing green energy and construction practices, like solar energy, will help all future projects be more energy efficient and long-lasting.

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