Thinking outside the glass box

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The new Toronto Paramedic Services Multifunction Station. Its design is part of a trend that’s seeing architects look for ways to turn roofs, walls and windows into power-producing elements of buildings while maximizing energy conservation.

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The dramatically slanted roof and sides of the new Toronto Paramedic Services Multifunction Station will be an eye-catcher. Less evident, but equally important, are that its walls and garage doors are designed to conserve heat and the photovoltaic arrays on the roof can produce much of the building’s electrical needs.

Meanwhile, the new Ottawa Public Library and Archives of Canada Joint Facility is weaving photovoltaic elements into its walls and windows to produce significant amounts of electricity. And in Winnipeg, the Red River College Innovation Centre is pushing the envelope with walls clad in colourful photovoltaic glass.

Each of them could have been built with conventional glass curtain walls and standard insulation, but they’re part of a trend that’s seeing architects look for ways to turn roofs, walls and windows into power-producing elements of buildings while maximizing energy conservation.

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“Energy-generating architectural materials have been around for a quite a while but not used in significant ways in buildings until now. They’re becoming more efficient and cost-effective for use in large-scale architecture and government mandates are spurring…

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