Solar energy on a building’s envelope is abundant and useful in many ways. Although vernacular typologies are often attuned to the sun’s benefits (given available, typically passive technologies) modern design strayed from the solar resource, resulting in uncomfortable, energy-intensive, and disassociated environments. 

Solar flux can be interpreted as distinct components across multiple dimensions: illumination, glare, and shade; color rendering capacity; diffuse light from the sky or direct power from the sun; ultraviolet, visible, and IR spectra; photovoltaic conversion to electricity, or accumulated thermal energy; the tradeoffs between the quality and quantity of available power. 

These are the solar components of a design space that includes a full range of affordances and criteria of the built environment. By navigating this space, we develop adaptable and robust methodologies for architectural research and practice. Technologies we develop, such as the Integrated Concentrating Solar Facade (ICSF), or the Solar Enclosure for Water Reuse (SEWR), arise out of this process of navigation. They are concepts, cross-referenced with current materials, systems, and fabrication methods, and are constantly evolved as new contributor components are available.

Energy Research

Related Research

Sponsorship to Date:


Research Teams:

Anna Dyson,

Nick Novelli,

Jason Vollen,

Peter Stark,

Kenton Philips, Mohamed Aly Etman,

Matt Gindlesparger, Brandon Andow, Satoshi Kiyono 

Industrial Collaborators:

SHoP Architects,

SOM Architecture, 

Arzon Solar,

HeliOptix LLC

Other Collaborators:

BEESL Labs in Syracuse, NY

Select Publications

Raugei, Marco, Naomi Keena, Nick Novelli, Mohamed Aly Etman, and Anna Dyson. “Life-Cycle Assessment of an Ecological Living Module (ELM) Equipped with Conventional Rooftop or Integrated Concentrating Photovoltaics.” Journal of Industrial Ecology, In Review.

Novelli, Nicholas E., Brandon C. Andow, Scott Overall, Christopher Morse, and Mohamed Aly. “Toplighting Technology for Transient Spaces.” In Proceedings of the International Building Physics Conference. Syracuse, NY, 2018.

Novelli, Nick, Robert Gordon, and Igor Varfolomeev. “Separating Direct from Diffuse: Observations of Visible Transmittance through a Tracking Photovoltaic Envelope.” In Facade Tectonics Institute 2018 World Congress Proceedings Volume 2, 355–64. Los Angeles, 2018.

Aly, Mohamed, Nicholas Evan Novelli, Justin Shultz, Kenton Phillips, Brandon Andow, and Anna Dyson. “Daylighting Effect of Separating Direct and Diffuse Insolation with Facade-Integrated, Transparent Solar Collector.” In Proceedings of the PLEA Conference. Bologna, 2015.

Novelli, Nicholas Evan, Kenton Phillips, Justin Shultz, Melanie M. Derby, Peter R. H. Stark, Michael K. Jensen, Jesse Craft, and Anna H. Dyson. “Experimental Investigation of a Building Envelope-Integrated, Transparent Concentrating Photovoltaic and Thermal Collector.” In Proceedings of SDEWES. Cologne, 2020.

Novelli, Nicholas. Shultz, Justin. Dyson, Anna. "Development of a Modeling Strategy for Adaptive Multifunctional Solar Energy Building Envelope Systems." Symposium on Simulation for Architecture and Urban Design (SimAUD), Washington DC, April 2015. Society for Computer Simulation International.


Concentrating Type Solar Collection and Daylighting System within Glazed Building Envelopes

Dyson, A. H., Jensen, M. K., & Borton, D. N. (2007). U.S. Patent No. 7190531 B2.

Concentrating Type Solar Collection and Daylighting System within Glazed Building Envelopes

Dyson, A. H., Jensen, M. K., & Borton, D. N. (2010). U.S. Patent No. 7745723 B2. 


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Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture


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