Abstract — Building Integrated Photovoltaics provides a
unique way of harnessing solar energy and transforming
buildings from energy consumers to energy producers.
Global interest in BIPV has expanded within education and
commercial sectors with an increase in research
publications and market share per annum. According to the
market analysts, an estimated yearly growth rate of 18.7%
and a total of 5.4 GW will be produced and installed across
the globe between 2013 and 2019. Although the BIPV
technology has been in the public domain for the last three
decades, its adoption has been hindered in specific regions
by several issues within professional and public domains.
These barriers are fueled by lack of knowledge, cost issues,
biased perception and inherent technological limitations.
Literature references assert that proper education is a
significant way of addressing adoption barriers. This study
aims to develop a conceptual educative-communication
model for presenting BIPV proposals. The target is towards
developing holistic research and market proposals which
justify investigation and investment of resources. This
approach was developed by harmonizing the widely agreed
pillars of sustainability with a hierarchical description of
BIPV and its unique advantages. Further research has been
identified, for evaluation and testing of this approach in
various contexts to validate its practicality in real-life
scenarios. The significant contribution lies in the
development of the approach to advance the discussion and
adoption of BIPV.
Index Terms— Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV),
Barriers, Sustainability, Multi-functionality, Proposal
IPV refers to the use of photovoltaic devices to replace
conventional building materials in components of the
building envelope, such as the roof, skylights or facades
. The building envelope is conventionally made up of
roofing, walls, glazing, cladding and fenestrations; and other
structures like shading devices, parapets, and balconies. Each
of these components provides opportunities for integrating PV
in the building and by extension, for façade customization [2-
Date submitted for review: March 2018. This work was supported as part of
a Ph.D. Research Fellowship by the United Arab Emirates University.
D.E. Attoye is with the United Arab Emirates University, P.O. Box 15551,
Al Ain, UAE (e-mail: email@example.com).
T.O. Adekunle is with the University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06117 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
6]. Specifically, the main BIPV applications extracted from
literature [3,4,7,8] include roof, skylight, atrium, curtain walls,
glazing, external/shading devices and other advanced systems
which include double skin facades.
BIPV technology represents the opportunity for a triple
advantage in architectural design. It harnesses solar energy,
addresses some limitations of utility-scale PV and converts the
building from an energy consumer to energy producer as a
multi-functional component. In harnessing solar energy, it
utilizes renewable energy from the sun which provides more
energy in one hour than the all the people on earth require for a
whole year [9.10]. It also provides decentralized on-site energy
right next to the point of use, thus reducing transmission and
conversion losses, as well as ancillary costs limitations with
utility-scale PV [11-17]. Also, it serves as a multifunctional
energy-producing building component used for roofing,
cladding, glazing or shading [1-3].
The global BIPV market witnessed a 35% growth between 2014
and 2015 from an estimated 1.5 GW to 2.3 GW . However,
the contribution of BIPV to the energy capacity added by Solar
PV in 2016 was 1% -being about 3.4GW of the total from
Solar PV –about 303GW [18-20]. Thus, though BIPV
technology has multiple benefits and has been in public domain
for the last three decades, its adoption rate in the built
environment is limited. Six major BIPV adoption barrier
categories were identified in the literature relating to education,
product, economy, database, industry, and management [21-
32]. Identified from the literature include several strategies
which address these barriers; with education being the most
crucial . This paper aims to develop an educative-
communication model for research and market proposals which
justify investigation and investment of resources in BIPV.
II. OVERVIEW OF BIPV
This section covers BIPV classification and application, its
materiality and multi-functionality and specifics on adoption
barriers. Several modes of classifying BIPV exist in literature
as a result of the interdisciplinary nature of the technology.
Some of these classifications are standardized and well-known
whereas some others are emerging; there are also industry-
K.A. Tabet Aoul is with the United Arab Emirates University, P.O. Box
15551, Al Ain, UAE. (e-mail: email@example.com).
A. Hassan is with the United Arab Emirates University, P.O. Box 15551, Al
Ain, UAE. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Daniel E. Attoye, Timothy O. Adekunle, Kheira A. Tabet Aoul, Hassan Ahmed
Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV)
Adoption: A conceptual Communication Model
for Research and Market Proposals
specific and technical classifications. These various forms of
classifications relate to:
Type of Photovoltaic technology, e.g., monocrystalline,
polycrystalline, amorphous, organic, dye-sensitized
Type of BIPV product, e.g., tiles, modules, glazing or foil
Location in the building, e.g., roof or façade [2,4]
Customization strategy, e.g., Systematic Parametric
Variation (SPV), Modification of Conventional Features
(MCF), Enhanced Design Modularization (EDM) or
Compositional Modification and Hybridization (CMH)
These groupings, however, overlap as they are only industry or
discussion-specific. In actual terms, they simply guide
classifications for functional purposes. Fig. 1 below shows the
various opportunities for BIPV in the building envelope; from
the roof to the façade.
Figure 1: BIPV in the building envelope
Source: Ref. 
Table 1 shows various representative examples of BIPV façade
integration. The importance of these examples is to show the
design adaptability and opportunities with BIPV. It also
presents a guide for enhancing an understanding of its
materiality and multi-functionality. The latter part of the paper
explained various concepts for the development of the
A. BIPV Barriers
From the findings of several studies stated earlier, six broad
categories of barriers have been identified. Each of these
barriers embodies a unique set of challenges to BIPV adoption;
a further explanation of each barrier category is presented as
1) Educational barriers
Lack of sufficient technical knowledge by architect 
Few certified BIPV contractors available 
Poor public understanding and cost perceptions of BIPV
Table 1: Type of BIPV Façade Integration
Source: Ref.  (Adapted with permission)
2) Product barriers
Lack of products suitable for quality building integration
Need to improve overall aesthetics and allow for
customization of appearance .
1. Curtain Wall/Cladding Systems
Solar panels integrated as a conventional cladding system for
curtain walls and single layer façades 
2. Solar Glazing and Windows
Applied as semi‐transparent/translucent parts of the façade based on
solar cell transparency. They can be integrated into windows,
glazing panels, for view or daylighting 
3. External Devices/Accessories
Sunshades and sunscreens, spandrels, balconies parapets, elements
of visual and acoustic shielding 
4. Advanced/Innovative Envelope Systems
Such as double skin façades, active skins, rotating or moving façade
parts, etc. 
a. Curtain Wall of Hanergy Office, Guangdong, China; showing
BIPV cladding; b. The glazing of KTH Executive School AB,
Sweden; showing glazing with spaced solar cells for daylighting
and view; c. Shading devices on Kingsgate House London, UK;
showing vertical polycrystalline; d. Innovative façade of Hanergy
Headquarters, Beijing, China; showing innovative “dragon scale”
arrangement of BIPV modules
Lack of appropriate products for architects .
3) Economic barriers
High Price of BIPV systems, Expected Pay Back Time
(EPBT) and Maintenance costs for modules .
Lack of governmental incentives .
Low government support and developer’s reluctance .
4) Database barriers
Lack of information on best practice examples/
demonstration examples .
Need to increase the number of demonstration projects
Practical demonstrations to educate the public regarding
energy use and environmental issues .
5) Industry barriers
Need for professional collaborations between all
Lack of mutual understanding and knowledge concerning
everyday practice .
Additionally, the building industry is described as being
very inert and as lacking sufficient innovative drive .
6) Management barriers
The BIPV ecosystem is not yet mature; business models
have to be developed .
Lack of adequate Business models .
Capacities of the system are too high for the affordability
of local target adopters .
Insufficient and inappropriate management .
To further explain the degree of interaction between facilitating
and restraining factors, a condensed list of BIPV barriers from
literature over the last five years was weighted alongside
suggested strategies and presented as a force field analysis .
Figure 2 below of the analysis shows that education, product,
and economic barriers were most crucial and educational
strategies most significant. Building on this, it is expected that
an educative-communication model will assist to advance BIPV
adoption. As such, further discussions on this concept and
development of the model are the focus of the rest of this paper.
Figure 2: Force field analysis of BIPV barriers and strategies
Source: Ref. 
B. BIPV Communication
Several strategic models have been developed to communicate
the importance of BIPV adoption. Examples of this include the
IEA Task 41-SubTask C three-stage approach from client to
design team to design-communication tools , the EU-based
use of “an ambitious demonstration project portfolio”  and
an AIQ-model to initiate and to focus discussions on
preferences for architectural integration of energy-producing
solar shading . This research adds to existing literature a
communication model for initial proposal presentations on
BIPV adoption to justify market investments and research
III. MODEL DEVELOPMENT
The goal of this process is to propose a systematic way of
presenting BIPV benefits in proposal development; and also
double as a potential education tool to discuss potentials of a
BIPV project. A Three-stage approach has been developed for
this communication model, which is intended show-case a
broad-based perspective, enhance understanding and advance
BIPV adoption. The first stage recounts the widely discussed
pillars of sustainability as the conceptual frame for the model
based on its global acceptance. The next stage presents the
BIPV Triple advantage and Hierarchy of Form to describe the
technology/proposal/project. Finally the synthesis of the
sustainability pillars with the BIPV advantage to form the
A. Pillars of Sustainability
The mainstream theory for sustainability has become the idea
of three pillars (3Ps) namely: economic, social and
environmental sustainability . The pillars of sustainability
follow the concept that every sustainable approach or idea must
provide benefits regarding the cost, social impact, and
ecological impact or carbon footprint. The three pillars are
interwoven and have been explained using different terms to
highlight the importance of the sustainability and the three
major players (people, planet, and profits). Adopted by the
General Assembly of the 2002 and 2005 World Summit on
Sustainable Development, these three components– economic
development, social development and environmental protection
– are presented as interdependent and mutually reinforcing
pillars [42, 43]. Today, these pillars are expressed and discussed
extensively across various governmental, professional and
commercial circles; influencing concepts like the triple bottom
line in sustainable urbanism and other aspects of the sustainable
built environment. They respectively relate to continued
support for a defined level of economic production, the ability
of a social system to maintain resident well-being, and ability
to ensure and maintain a responsible use of renewable resources
and curb non-renewable resource depletion.
Concerning environmental sustainability, the framework must
promote the overall well-being of people. For the social
sustainability, the concept must maintain equity while
economic sustainability ensures the framework is innovative
and efficient. Based on the definitions of the pillars, it is
important to state that any framework or model must meet the
requirements highlighted in the definitions. For this paper, the
study agrees that for BIPV, the framework for research and
market proposals must satisfy the crucial requirements for the
pillars of sustainability. Also, the integration of the pillars for
development of a framework must provide a truly sustainable
design or development that will make the world a better place.
B. BIPV Triple Advantage and Hierarchy of Form
A descriptive understanding of BIPV viz-a-viz, a structural
breakdown of its constituents, has been suggested .
Reference is made to the elemental and compositional
dimensions; the former relates to specifics such as the cell
technology, cells shape, module design, and arrangement. The
latter refers to the building function and type of product. The
descriptive model provides a holistic understanding of BIPV is
here proposed to encompass the hierarchy of BIPV origins and
To state succinctly, the hierarchical composition of BIPV
relates to it first as a building component, next as type of PV
technology; then as a strategy which harnesses solar energy to
generate electricity. Solar energy is itself a renewable source of
energy which assists to reduce the use of non-renewables and
stem the rate of global environmental pollution. The idea
portrays a wider perspective of what BIPV represents and may
help to appreciate its relevance to society and facilitate its
adoption. Fig. 3 shows a diagrammatic illustration of the BIPV-
Figure 3: BIPV Hierarchy of Form
C. Unified BIPV-3P Matrix
The final stage of the model development is an integrated
matrix which presents a juxtaposition of the BIPV hierarchy of
form and the 3Pillars of sustainability. The concept leads to a
comparison of the four (4) components of the BIPV-PV-Solar-
Renewable chain with the Environmental-Economic-Social
Pillars. In this comparison, BIPV technology/proposal/project/
is discussed at each level of its hierarchy based on associated
environmental, social or economic benefits. Added to the model
is the design dimension to simulate the intrinsic architectural
orientation of BIPV. Fig. 4 below shows the color-coded
matrix, and the discussion section summarizes the practicality
of the matrix in operation.
Each cell in the matrix corresponds to the required information
at each level of the BIPV Hierarchy based on its 3P benefits.
The grid format selected assists in a structured and systematic
approach to present the facts required to justify the
project/proposal objectives and benefits.
The developed matrix is divided into a set of rows and columns
to communicate the proposal/project idea. The information
contained by detailing the 3P section of BIPV hierarchy 1 to 3
(i.e., Renewable, Solar and Photovoltaic aspects) is similar for
all projects (Cells 1 to 12). However, discussing it in context
can be different and potentially presents better relevance and
aids understanding. For example, based on regional policies,
Renewable Energy (BIPV Hierarchy 1) has economic benefits
(Cell 2). As such, this information will differ for projects in
separate geographical locations and consequently impact the
contents of the matrix. BIPV Hierarchy 4 (cell 13-16) is the core
of the proposal, and the 3P outline should be discussed at two
levels; firstly the benefits of BIPV as an energy source and
secondly, as a building component.
To aid better understanding the Matrix, the crucial information
required for communicating a BIPV project proposal for the
sixteen cells has been outlined below. The list of suggested
contents is aligned with the 3P columns on the Matrix.
However, this is a guide not an exhaustive list to justify the
proposal. Similar questions should be developed to facilitate
contextual and holistic potentials based on unique
characteristics of the proposal.
Energy Photovoltaics BIPV
Figure 4: BIPV-3P Matrix
A. Cells 1 to 12 relating to BIPV Hierarchy 1 to 3
Cell 1: Environmental benefits of Renewables
State cumulative percentage/amount in tons of reduction of
carbon emissions in the region
State accrued benefits in wildlife conservation and human
preservation (or related interest to sponsor)
Cell 2: Economic benefits of Renewables
State fuel and maintenance cost savings compared with non-
renewable energy sources
State marketability of free natural resources
Cell 3: Social benefits of Renewables
State the potential reduction in the Social Cost of Carbon
associated with similar energy output from a fossil fuel power
State accrued benefits of replacing fossil energy sources, and
other points such as international recognition and
Cell 4: Design benefits of Renewables
Highlight adopting buildings as a free-standing support
medium for Building Integrated Renewables
State potential visual impact on energy awareness on the
residents in the region
Cell 5: Environmental benefits of Solar Energy
State cumulative percentage/amount in tons of reduction in
carbon emissions in the region
State reduction in pollution (e.g., noise) during use
compared to fossil fuel energy generation
Cell 6: Economic benefits of Solar Energy
State energy security benefits and independence; and
advantages of a constant source of fuel
State flexibility and adaptability for basic household use and
advanced technological applications
Cell 7: Social benefits of Solar Energy
State potential to advance global energy reduction targets
and advocacy/image recognition
State potential for labor employment and other corporate
Cell 8: Design benefits of Solar Energy
State passive opportunities such as daylighting, along with
State active opportunities such as photovoltaics, along with
Cell 9: Environmental benefits of Photovoltaics
State cumulative percentage/amount in tons of reduction of
carbon emissions in the region
State advantages of a constant source of fuel relating to the
reduced recurrent need for fuel harvesting
Cell 10: Economic benefits of Photovoltaics
State comparative long-term cost benefits compared with
other energy sources relating to maintenance
State savings in cost of fuel compared to other energy
Cell 11: Social benefits of Photovoltaics
State investment as a form of social responsibility towards a
global sustainable future
State labor employment, advocacy, and support for the
Cell 12: Design benefits of Photovoltaics
State opportunities as a building integrated or building
State technological growth as a sign of the global shift
towards harmony with the architectural design
B. Cell 13a-16a relating to BIPV Hierarchy 4; focusing on
BIPV as an Energy Source
Cell 13a: Environmental Benefits
State how much the proposal reduces CO2 emission
State how much land is saved compared to utility-scale PV
based on expected power output
State the number of trees saved by using BIPV in the
project based on similar expected power output from a
utility-scale PV plant
Cell 14a: Economic Benefits
State the amount of savings in labor cost
State the amount of savings in infrastructure cost compared
to utility-scale PV based on expected power output
State the cost savings in land purchase compared to a
utility-scale project of the same expected power output
Cell 15a: Social Benefits
State the visibility of the project to the public
State opportunities for educating the public 
Cell 16a: Design Benefits
State the amount of energy produced
State the amount of energy saved compared to use of non-
State the benefits of energy control enjoyed by the intended
C. Cell 13b-16b relating to BIPV Hierarchy 4; focusing on
BIPV as a Building Component
Cell 13b: Environmental Benefits
State the savings in embodied energy
State the environmental impact advantage compared with
replaced building materials
Cell 14b: Economic Benefits
State labor cost savings
State aggregated cost savings compared with alternative
materials e.g. bricks or blockwork; mortar, painting; and
separate costs for glazing and associated costs.
At an advanced level, carry out a comparative full life cycle
analysis with other material alternatives
Cell 15b: Social Benefits
State potential visual impact and energy awareness
education on/for the residents in the region
State potential to serve as contemporary green building
Cell 16b: Design Benefits
Discuss the aesthetic potential of the project compared with
other surrounding modern buildings
State multi-functional uses of the BIPV installation: does it
provide daylighting or view or shading along with energy
For each of these, information is to be provided which is
specific to the project proposal, with the background facts on
the 3P benefits on renewable, solar and PV hierarchies. This
matrix is flexible and can be presented as is, or modified based
on specifics of the proposal. Although all the cells need not be
filled, a general introduction of the BIPV hierarchy following
the suggested chain can assist to develop a strong presentation
to justify market/financial investments and research
This paper has presented the conceptual development of an
educative-communication model for BIPV market and research
proposals. A holistic understanding of project proposals,
facilitated by proper communication of the project goals and
benefits can potentially facilitate acceptance. To evaluate the
developed model the authors propose two approaches for
further studies. Firstly, the use of a survey to investigate an
understanding and impact of the model based on respondent’s
perception of BIPV. Secondly, the use of the model may be
applied to discuss a proposal for a BIPV demonstration project.
Conclusively, this paper elaborates the need and strategies for
proper communication of innovative ideas to encourage
adoption and a global sustainable future.
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