Why Does PV Based Solar Power Have to Be Ugly?

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PV Based Solar Power ( Solar Thermal Magazine ) The recent 2103  renovation of the Enwave Theatre at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre included a brand new skin for the theatre – and it’s more than just a pretty face. The innovative glass envelope that replaced the old thermopanes has been transformed by Sarah Hall’s Waterglass – an integrated art installation that not only looks great – it actually generates electricity with built-in photovoltaic (solar) cells. This installation is the most apparent of the numerous energy-efficient elements designed into the building and its windows.

Sarah Hall Studio is a North American leader in Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV), and has installed several beautiful and dramatic works in Vancouver, BC, Portland, Oregon, Saskatoon, SK, and Washington, DC. Waterglass is Sarah Hall’s first BIPV installation in Toronto.

The Enwave Theatre was originally constructed in 1926 as an ice house where large blocks of ice intended for freight and cold storage were stored. It was converted into a 416-seat theatre in the 1980s. As part of the renovation concluded this year the theatre now boasts a sleek, three-story glass envelope that surrounds the entire north, east, and west sides of the facility, providing thermal insulation and the unique, electricity-generating windows. Waterglass is a world first for integrating art glass and photovoltaics with heat mirror technology, bringing it to the highest insulation values possible for glass. Not a bad upgrade for a 90-year-old ice house!

While the windows` design looks to the future, they also connect to the past, with a collection of 360 historic photographs permanently embedded in the glass envelope. The photos compellingly document the history of Lake Ontario and our relationship with it. The glass installation generates electricity during daylight hours from the western canopy photovoltaics. At night the windows are lit by an array of colour-changing LED’s. This retrofit significantly reduced the building’s energy consumption, carbon production and cost of operation.

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As with every major project, several technical partners contributed to the success of this transformation: Internat Energy Solutions Canada, Glasmalerei Peters GmbH, MGT–esys GmbH and Eco Insulating Glass Inc. The project was sponsored by Enwave – world leaders in deep-water cooling of buildings – and it was wholeheartedly embraced by Harbourfront as part of its commitment to sustainability. This partnership with Harbourfront Centre won an Award of Distinction from The Globe and Mail Business for the Arts Partnership Awards.

The transformation of the Enwave Theatre provides a stunning example of how technology, a commitment to environmental sustainability and artistic creativity can
be beautifully integrated.

For further information   www.SarahHallStudio.com/media

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.