Going mainstream with learnings from dragonscale
Solar panels that are integrated into the design of the building, rather than added later, are known as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). Integrating solar panels into a roof, like we did with dragonscale, is one approach to using BIPV. Another is incorporating them into the skin of the building. But again, the challenge is to do it in a way that looks good.
The constraints of traditional manufacturing processes also make BIPV projects more difficult. Currently, buildings featuring integrated solar panels require custom designed and manufactured panels, which only niche producers using flexible manufacturing processes with limited output can produce. For our newer buildings, we chose to use a standard solar panel size (3 feet by 5 feet) with standard panel mounts in our designs. This allowed us to use more prevalent, high-volume manufacturing processes so that production and installation could ramp up quickly and at scale.
In a relatively short amount of time, we were able to work with different manufacturers, experiment with a range of facade aesthetics, land on a few designs and share them with our construction teams. Today, two of our newer projects in the Bay Area are implementing these facade photovoltaic panels.