Canadian Consulting Engineer

SMU plans North America’s tallest solar-integrated façade

May 10, 2022

The retrofit is scheduled for completion early next year.

SMU BIPV facade

Image courtesy Mitrex.

Dillon Consulting and BMR Structural Engineering have joined a project team to install North America’s tallest building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) façade at St. Mary’s University (SMU) in Halifax.

The microgrid application, which will reportedly be the largest of its kind in North America, will transform an existing student residence building with Toronto-based manufacturer Mitrex’s BIPV technology. Other project partners include EllisDon, DSRA Architects and Markland Construction.

The façade will offer a decentralized source of sustainable and renewable energy, reducing the structure’s associated carbon emissions. The electricity it supplies will synchronously operate and connect to the traditional grid, but the application can also disconnect from the grid and function autonomously, allowing the student residence to enter ‘island mode’ as dictated by technical or economic conditions.

Scheduled for completion early next year, the project will retrofit the building envelope’s south face with more than 6,000 sf of cladding, integrating vertical, semi-opaque solar glass into the windows. The design of the cladding panels will combine the school’s colours with the solar technology.

“Projects like the SMU retrofit can effectively showcase the vast opportunities offered by new technologies in the building and construction sector,” says Mitrex’s CEO, Danial Hadizadeh. “Integrated solar energy is the future. It has already started to replace outdated solutions.”


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