Building-Integrated Photovoltaics

Definition of Building-Integrated Photovoltaics

Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) refers to the integration of photovoltaic materials or solar panels into the structure or facade of a building, rather than being installed as separate entities. BIPV systems not only generate renewable energy but also act as functional building elements, such as windows, walls, roofs, or shading devices. This approach enhances the building’s aesthetics, while reducing overall construction and energy costs.


The phonetics of the keyword “Building-Integrated Photovoltaics” are:Building: /ˈbɪldɪŋ/Integrated: /ˈɪntɪˌgreɪtɪd/Photovoltaics: /ˌfoʊtoʊvɔlˈteɪɪks/

Key Takeaways

  1. Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) seamlessly integrate into the construction of a building, serving as both part of the structure and a renewable energy source.
  2. BIPV systems reduce overall installation costs and energy bills, while contributing to increased sustainability and reduced reliance on traditional energy sources.
  3. Though BIPV systems offer an aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional solar panels, they still face challenges in terms of efficiency, cost, and widespread adoption.

Importance of Building-Integrated Photovoltaics

Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) is an important technological term because it represents the seamless integration of solar energy harvesting systems within the architectural design of a building.

BIPV replaces conventional construction materials, such as roofs, facades, or windows, with photovoltaic modules, allowing for the generation of clean and renewable electricity directly from the building.

This concept not only enhances the building’s energy efficiency and sustainability but also contributes to its aesthetic appeal.

As a result, BIPV paves the way for energy-efficient construction, promotes use of renewable energy sources, and supports reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, which ultimately contributes to the global effort in combating climate change and promoting sustainable development.


Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) serves as an innovative solution to simultaneously address the ecological and economic challenges faced by modern architects and property owners. The primary purpose of BIPV is to incorporate renewable energy generation directly into the facade, roof, or structural components of a building, effectively transforming these elements into power sources.

By doing so, it provides an efficient integration of solar power into contemporary construction strategies. In addition to catering to the sustainable energy needs of the building, this technology aids in reducing electricity bills and the reliance on non-renewable energy resources, thereby contributing to the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Another essential aspect of BIPV technology is its ability to enhance both the practical and aesthetic qualities of the building while maintaining an environmentally-conscious design ethos. In a world increasingly concerned with energy efficiency and climate change, BIPV systems play a crucial role in providing architects with the creative freedom to develop visually appealing structures that meet the demands of occupants for comfort and resource conservation.

This architectural approach, which harmoniously blends functionality with aesthetics, will not only shape the future of sustainable urban development but will also make clean, renewable energy more easily accessible to a broader population in their daily living and working environments.

Examples of Building-Integrated Photovoltaics

Palazzo Italia (Milan, Italy):Palazzo Italia, completed in 2015, is an impressive example of Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). Located in Milan, this six-story building covering 9,000 square meters features a unique and innovative BIPV system. The facade of Palazzo Italia comprises 900 biodynamic concrete panels embedded with innovative organic photovoltaic cells. These cells, also known as dye-sensitized solar cells, are capable of capturing and converting solar energy into electricity. In addition to producing power for the building, the photocatalytic properties of the panels also act as air-purifiers, actively reducing pollutants.

Willis Tower (Chicago, USA):The Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, is another excellent example of BIPV technology implementation. In 2009, the building’s owners embarked on a major renovation project aimed at improving the sustainability and energy efficiency of the iconic skyscraper. A significant part of this project involved the installation of integrated photovoltaic panels on some sections of the tower’s south-facing windows. The solar panels generate renewable energy, while also reducing the building’s heat gain, ultimately leading to a reduced demand for air conditioning and significant energy savings.

The Heliotrope (Freiburg, Germany):Designed by the German architect Rolf Disch, the Heliotrope is a groundbreaking example of BIPV technology combined with an innovative approach to sustainable design. Completed in 1994, this residential building can rotate 180 degrees to follow the sun’s path throughout the day. The structure’s roof is equipped with an array of integrated solar panels, which absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity, meeting the building’s energy needs while reducing its carbon footprint. The Heliotrope serves as a model of sustainable architecture and an excellent example of BIPV implementation in a residential context.

Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) FAQ

What is Building-Integrated Photovoltaics?

Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) is the integration of solar panels into the building envelope, such as the roof, facade, or windows, to generate electricity. This allows the building to produce clean and renewable energy, thereby reducing its carbon footprint and energy costs.

What are the benefits of BIPV?

BIPV offers several benefits, such as reduced energy costs, improved building aesthetics, lower environmental impact, increased building value, and enhanced energy efficiency. It also allows for better use of the building’s surface area, as the solar panels can be integrated into the building structure instead of relying on additional space for installation.

How are BIPV different from traditional solar panels?

While both BIPV and traditional solar panels generate electricity using photovoltaic cells, BIPV are designed to be seamlessly integrated into the building’s structure. This results in a more aesthetically pleasing appearance compared to traditional solar panels, which are installed on top of the building or on separate structures.

What are the types of BIPV systems available?

There are several types of BIPV systems available, including rooftop, facade, and window-integrated systems. Rooftop systems replace conventional roofing materials, while facade systems serve as the building’s outer envelope or cladding. Window-integrated systems consist of transparent or semi-transparent solar panels that allow natural light to enter the building while generating electricity.

Are there any drawbacks to using BIPV?

While BIPV offers many benefits, there can be some drawbacks. BIPV systems can be more expensive upfront compared to traditional solar panels, and their overall efficiency can be slightly lower depending on the specific system. Additionally, BIPV systems require collaboration between architects, engineers, and solar professionals throughout the design and construction process, which can be more complex than installing traditional solar panels.

Related Technology Terms

  • Solar Facades
  • Photovoltaic Glass
  • BIPV Modules
  • Transparent Solar Panels
  • Energy-efficient Construction

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents