A Simplified Method for BIPV Retrofitting of Emirati Public Housing with Preserved Architectural Identity: A Pilot Study

Khaled Galal Ahmed, Mona Megahed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has tailored its own sustainability initiatives and a local agenda for realizing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. This Agenda includes providing clean sustainable energy and achieving sustainable communities. In accordance with these efforts, this ‘pilot’ study aims at, first, exploring an appropriate, simplified method of integrating photovoltaic (PV) panels in existing single-family public housing in the UAE without compromising the architectural style and identity of the original designs. Second, it aims at assessing the sufficiency of the generated electricity through this proposed Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) system. Finally, it aims at conducting a pilot survey to explore the Emirati residents’ acceptance of the proposed BIPV system. A frequently developed design model of single-family public housing projects in the UAE was selected to undertake the research investigations where the most suitable architectural elements of its envelope were defined for accommodating the integrated PV panels. Afterwards, a complete set of BIPV panel designs tailored to fit with the defined architectural elements of the selected house was prepared. The dimensions and areas of the BIPV panels were defined and digitally constructed through Building Information Modeling (BIM) software. After considering the efficiency and adequacy of the selected type of BIPV panels and figuring out the expected system losses, the PVWatts Calculator was used for simulating the expected electricity output in kilowatt hours (kWh) for the four façades of the selected model house in their four possible different orientations, as well as the overall average electricity output from the whole BIPV system. The results of the yearly electricity output were very close regardless of the orientation of the four façades of the retrofitted model house, with the total average annual output exceeding the estimated yearly average electricity consumption of this model house. This obviously indicates the potential benefit of the proposed BIPV system, especially with the continuous decrease in the capital cost of the PV panels and their increasing efficiency. With the Emirati residents’ clear acceptance of the proposed BIPV system, it might be also considered as an efficient alternative to the currently limited application of rooftop PV solutions in the UAE.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5227
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2022


  • BIPV
  • Emirati
  • SDGs
  • UAE
  • architectural identity
  • public housing
  • retrofitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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