BIPV/BAPV Barriers to Adoption: Architects’ Perspectives from Canada and the United States
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Solar photovoltaic technology (PV) is a promising clean energy source that assists in climate change mitigation. This is due to solar PV having minimal greenhouse gas emissions when operating compared to burning fossil fuel. Solar PV is also a versatile technology owing to its multiple applications within the built environment. Buildings are responsible for nearly half of the world’s energy consumption; thus, reducing buildings’ energy usage through environmentally-responsive design techniques, in addition to the application of PV products, can not only assist in reducing the energy consumed by buildings, but also contributes to mitigating the adverse effects of climate change. Architects, in particular, play a substantial role in achieving sustainable/environmentally responsive designs; hence, their collaboration is essential. This study investigated American and Canadian architects’ level of awareness and interest in Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) and Building Applied Photovoltaic (BAPV) products. It also aimed to shed light on the barriers that are responsible for slowing down the adoption process. This study was conducted in two phases: a) a web-based survey questionnaire administered to architects who have an active membership in the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), and the American Institute of Architects (AIA); b) in-depth interviews with architects and key informants in the solar industry. The results indicated that architects are aware of PV benefits and the products available for buildings’ application; however, they lack essential practical knowledge. Furthermore, the results indicated that PV systems’ capital cost is the major perceived barrier to PV adoption in the building industry. Other reported barriers are: the lack of government financial incentives in some jurisdictions, the problematic grid connection process and the lengthy application lead times. Recommendations based on this study’s results include, but are not limited to, providing financial support mechanisms, simplifying the administrative procedures of financial support mechanisms and grid access permits, and offering education and training to architects through architectural associations and academic institutions.