Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Engineering Science


Mechanical and Materials Engineering


Johlin, Eric


Building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) systems are one of the growing applications of PV technology. These approaches allow PV panels to perform additional functions for the building, such as regulating interior lighting and incoming heat. In this work, we explore a design framework for optimizing the configuration of BIPV shading devices to optimize a combination of power generation, daylighting conditions within the building, and heating and cooling loads.

We develop a generalizable computational model and apply it to a case study for the Cornerstone Architecture Building in London, Ontario. We optimize the configuration of static and dynamic BIPV shading devices in both horizontal and vertical configurations. Then, we compare the overall performance of these systems with each other and passive shades as well as conventional windows with no shades.

Summary for Lay Audience

The potential of solar energy is vast compared to the other sources of renewable energy. A photovoltaic (PV) system is designed to generate electricity from this clean, cheap and abundant source of energy by using photovoltaic materials. Photovoltaics consist of solar cells which absorb and convert sunlight into electricity.

Building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) systems are a promising application of PV that has attracted increasing attention in recent years and plays an important role in achieving the goal of buildings with zero net energy consumption (net-zero energy building). BIPV refers to the integration of photovoltaic modules with dual purposes of replacing building components and simultaneously generating electricity. Photovoltaic panels can be used as shading devices in both new and existing buildings. They generate electricity and simultaneously improve the thermal and lighting conditions of the interior. While previous studies have compared different configurations and objectives for BIPV shades, the full design of such shades, particularly considering lighting, thermal, and power objectives had not yet been explored.

A computational framework is developed to optimize the design of building-integrated photovoltaic sunshades. BIPV shading devices are modeled in both static and dynamic format in horizontal and vertical layouts.

Results for a case study office building in London, Ontario, show that in static systems, vertical shades on east-facing windows generate more electricity than horizontal shades, but are not able to reduce the glare from direct sunlight as successfully. Therefore, the specific configuration (horizontal or vertical layout) depends on the relative preference for daylighting.

It is also concluded that dynamic BIPV window shades (shade with time-varying angle) have higher overall performance than static BIPV shades, and as the frequency of changing the angle increases (changing the angle every hour instead of every season or twice a year) the difference in overall performance compared to static system increases as well.

Finally, the framework developed here is general and can be used for optimizations for arbitrary building specifications and locations.