Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) are photovoltaic materials that are used to replace conventional building materials in parts of the building envelope such as the roof, skylights, or facades. They are increasingly being incorporated into the construction of new buildings as a principal or ancillary source of electrical power, although existing buildings may be retrofitted with similar technology. The advantage of integrated photovoltaics over more common non-integrated systems is that the initial cost can be offset by reducing the amount spent on building materials and labor that would normally be used to construct the part of the building that the BIPV modules replace.
Green construction goal must be to make solar roofs that look better than normal roofs, generate electricity, last longer, have better insulation, and actually have an installed cost that is less than the cost of a normal roof plus the cost of electricity. The idea of embedding solar cells in roofing materials isn’t new. But doing it well – from ensuring the solar cells are well protected to making the hybrid shingles easy to install and still function as part of a roof – is no small feat. The price of conventional solar panels has dropped considerably in recent years, and financing products such as leases – where consumers pay only for the solar electricity and not the expensive equipment – have made it more affordable for homeowners to go solar.