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Sidney Lu MEB piquing local interest

2/15/2021

Popular Q&A column “Tom’s Mailbag” in The News-Gazette featured the Sidney Lu Mechanical Engineering Building last week. A local resident inquired about the unique look of the windows on the building’s south façade, and columnist Tom Kacich turned to MechSE Director of Facilities and Operations Damon McFall for the answer:

"The embedded solar panels are referred to as building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) panels,” McFall said. “This approach utilized on a larger scale can help contribute to the societal goal of achieving net-positive facilities or buildings that produce more energy than they consume," said McFall. "The use of BIPV panels on the Sidney Lu Mechanical Engineering Building will serve as an educational tool for students and faculty to understand the benefits and challenges of integrating solar into the façade of a facility.

"A core imperative for the building was to be a leader in innovation. Thus, the idea to include BIPV was supported by Mechanical Science and Engineering Professor Ty Newell. The project is a first on campus and possibly the only installation of its kind nationally. The state-of-the-art panels have already provided research opportunities to designers, builders, and others.

"The goal is for students, community members, and guests to learn more about BIPV in campus, commercial, and government facilities and pursue building design and construction that meets the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building and Community Challenges (Living-Future.org). Once the facility opens this summer, tours will be offered where the public can learn more about the technology."