The modern built environment has been developed in a context of readily-available, low-cost energy from highly concentrated fossil fuels. Today's global energy landscape has dramatically changed; energy costs have become significant in the operation of buildings, and the sector uses a major portion of the global resources of fossil fuels.
In recent years a major focus of green building development in North America and internationally has been on setting up sustainable energy practices for the built environment. This focus has advanced energy conservation and efficiency measures for buildings; on-site clean energy generation is now positioned as a critical next step in meeting increasing energy demands while enhancing the functionality and comfort of buildings.
“Solar Architecture” as a green building concept addresses sustainable energy practices and the needs of the three major tiers of the built environment: community planning, existing buildings, and new construction.
This article uses a case study of integrating renewable energy engineering into university campus energy planning to demonstrate some of the roles energy engineering plays in our built environment. As part of a master planning process for Dalhousie University, solar energy generation potential mapping and the SolarStarRating™ system were used to facilitate the integration of solar technologies into the community energy mix. The process identified the buildings most suited to retrofitting with solar technologies, and enabled the best opportunities to be investigated.