Just a few days ago, the $41 million Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental & Energy Systems (SyracuseCoE), a 55,000 square-foot building designed to LEED Platinum certification, was dedicated. The facility was built to be a living laboratory and platform to showcase technological innovation. Currently, the south facade of the laboratory wing includes a spot to test building envelope and window systems, and it's currently testing this innovative integrated concentrating dynamic solar facade.
The facade system provides electrical power, thermal energy, enhanced daylighting, and reduced solar gain, all at the same time. It was designed by the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE), which is a research consortium co-hosted by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
Here's how it works. There's small concentrating PV technology housed within a weather-sealed window. Inside the window panes, several clear pyramid lenses track the sun and concentrate solar rays onto a high-efficiency PV cell. Power not converted to electricity is captured for hot water or radiant heat for the facility, and some solar gain is minimized through absorption or reflection.
You can see a video of the system tracking the sun's rays at HeliOptix. The integrated concentrated solar facade system is interesting … we'll see how much success is achieved through prototype testing at SyracuseCoE and report back in the future.
Photo credits: HeliOptix.