Let the sun shine in
Among the building’s advances is a high-efficiency solar technology that uses both photovoltaic (PV) and thermal panels to generate renewable energy.
The hybrid technology, funded by Natural Resources Canada, combines solar air heating and PV electricity generation in one system, making it the world’s first building to draw on solar energy to generate both heat and power.
Andreas Athienitis, who heads the Concordia-based, Solar Research Building Network, is one of the chief developers of the solar-panel technology. “There are other solar walls using PV working on a smaller scale but nothing of this size. It’s the world’s first, full-scale demonstration of such a technology,” says Athienitis, who is also a Concordia Research Chair, Tier 1, in Solar Energy in the Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.
The 384 solar panels cover a huge expanse, about 300 square metres, along the facade of the building’s top-floor, which houses the mechanical systems. The panels are perforated and connected to electrical and thermal systems that heat and light the building, provide solar-heated fresh air and run the computers, among other tasks. This technology will supply about 25 kilowatts of electricity and 75 kilowatts of heating, working at an unprecedented, 60-percent efficiency. These panels could actually fill the electricity needs of 10 medium-size houses for one year!
Interested in actual figures and efficiency? If so, an energy display, located in the lobby of the JMSB building, shows the real-time energy—captured from the sun—for the building’s use.