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Powering up while dropping to zero

Features | July 1, 2024 | By: Bruce N. Wright, FAIA

Many architects are using every trick in the book to help reduce reliance on traditional energy sources, including applying photovoltaic (PV) technology to their buildings along with improved efficiencies in HVAC and building envelope insulation. However, not every designer feels comfortable slapping PV arrays on their beautiful buildings—covering every south-facing roof surface with the shiny industrial-finished technology—even if it helps bring the overall building performance metrics into compliance.

Pvilion is a design company that leverages the recent tech advancements in thin film photovoltaic efficiencies to pair with numerous opportunities in designs that can benefit from low-carbon power. The company’s Heavy Duty Portable Solar Canopy and Hands-Off Expeditionary Tent are designed as quick deployable power resources for temporary shelters or events. The solar canopy has the ability to “self-power equipment, lighting, cell phones, laptops and other gear,” as listed in the project data for Pvilion’s International Achievement Award received from the Advanced Textiles Association  in 2022.

Built to withstand many environmental conditions (including hurricane zones), the 20-by-24-foot module can be installed as a permanent structure and can be expanded in the future with additional modules as power needs grow. The main selling point is that this system is aimed at businesses “that want energy sources that are capable of being independent from the local electric grid.” 

The “plug-in” quality of the robust design is ideal for any building project that has phased construction baked into the program. Many clients today are wary of overbuilding but want to plan for expansion in the future as circumstances allow. These modular units can be custom designed to integrate with any building program and be energy sized to augment any building’s energy plan, either as supplemental emergency power or as part of the net zero energy/net zero carbon calculations. 


Project data

Company: Pvilion

Design/fabrication/Installation: Pvilion Technologies

Fabric/membrane: Vinyl-coated polyester with integrated thin-film PV

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