With the ever increasing focus on sustainable, net-zero, and grid-efficient buildings, architectural solar has been and continues to evolve as a key tool within renewable energy integration. But what exactly is architectural solar, and how does it influence the design and functionality of buildings? Answering these questions is the goal of Christopher Klinga, P.E. and the Architectural Solar Association (ASA) in their new free course – Introduction to Architectural Solar.

What is Architectural Solar?

When folks think of architectural solar, building integrated photovoltaics (or BIPV) is likely the first thing that comes to mind. That’s when solar is combined with a building component and provides both function and energy production, but there’s more to architectural solar than BIPV. 

The ASA defines architectural solar as solar energy generating technologies that have architectural significance or are coordinated with the architectural design process. It presents a broad continuum of integration opportunities, ranging from site-applied photovoltaics to building-integrated photovoltaics. 

At one end of the spectrum, we have externally integrated elements like sunshades and awnings, while at the other end, we have envelope-integrated solar that forms a barrier between indoors and the outdoor environment. Each level of integration offers unique benefits and challenges, requiring varying degrees of architectural coordination and customization.

Building integration of photovoltaics opens up new possibilities for leveraging solar technology as an essential building component. By incorporating solar elements directly into the architectural design, buildings can reduce costs and environmental impact while enhancing energy efficiency and sustainability. 

Introduction to Architectural Solar Course Learning Objectives

Enrolling in the course is free. By the end of it, each student will be able to:

  • Define architectural solar and explain why it is important
  • Understand the basics of solar module technology
  • Understand how modules are rated and how that equates to energy
  • Define the 6 application categories of architectural solar
  • Understand key considerations associated with each of these categories
  • Identify a range of installation types and where they fit within the architectural solar continuum

Approved Continuing Education Units

The Introduction to Architectural Solar course has been approved for 2 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Learning Units and Health, Safety & Wellness credits (2 LU/HSW) as well as 1 NABCEP CEU. Students will be able to submit their Certificate of Completion as proof of completion. 

Your Instructor for Introduction to Architectural Solar

The Architectural Solar Association (ASA) is a 501(c)(6) trade association that represents the intersection of the solar and building industries that have a common goal of transforming building facades and other architectural surfaces into generating assets. They are an industry advocate for standards development, education, legislative regulations, building and energy codes, and architectural solar design specifications as they relate to integrating solar into the architectural envelope.

Christopher Klinga, P.E. is the creator and voice behind the course. He started his career in solar in 2007 and has worked in sales, engineering, and product development. Today, he is the Technical Director at ASA and the Principal at SolMotiv Design.

The ASA has been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to educate design and construction professionals on architectural solar. Some of the primary goals of this education initiative is to break down barriers inhibiting the widespread adoption of architectural solar and increasing the penetration of on-site renewable energy. This free Introduction to Architectural Solar is the first course of several to be made available on HeatSpring.

Enroll Today!

As local governments embrace aggressive building performance standards and renewable energy requirements, architectural solar is gaining traction as a compelling and achievable design opportunity. By tapping into the full spectrum of integration opportunities, architects and designers can not only meet performance targets but also enhance the resilience and sustainability of their projects.