Optimization of PV modules layout on high-rise building skins using a BIM-based generative design approach

Faridaddin Vahdatikhaki, Negar Salimzadeh, Amin Hammad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
183 Downloads (Pure)


Global economic growth is leading to a higher demand for energy. Considering the declining cost of technology and rising fossil fuel prices, the application of renewable energy technologies is promising. The worldwide use of photovoltaic electricity is growing rapidly by more than 50% a year. In the urban environment, buildings are central to human activities. Therefore, to achieve sustainable urban development, buildings are of particular importance for distributed renewable energy generation. Of different types of buildings in the built environment, high-rise buildings are of particular interest because of their high potential for harvesting a considerable amount of photovoltaic (PV) energy on vertical and horizontal surfaces. Nevertheless, this high potential is seldom harnessed mainly because the deployment of PV modules on high-rise buildings involves consideration of a complex interplay between various factors that affect the installation of PV modules (e.g., urban canyons, self-shadowing effect, surface-specific PV modules, etc.). This renders the design of PV modules in high-rise buildings a complex optimization problem, one that requires a generative design approach. In recent years, and with the advent and rising popularity of Building Information Modeling (BIM) concept, the apparatus for the implementation of such a comprehensive generative design approach is becoming increasingly available. However, to the best of authors’ knowledge, there are currently no frameworks for the BIM-based generative design of PV modules for high-rise buildings. To this end, the present paper made a novel contribution to the body of knowledge by presenting a BIM-based generative design framework for PV module layout design on the whole exterior of tall buildings. This allows designers to consider the complex interaction between building surface types (e.g., windows, walls, etc.), type of PV module (e.g., opaque, semi-transparent, etc.), the efficiency of different PV modules, and the financial aspect of the PV system (i.e., revenue vs. cost at different study period). The results generated by the elaborate case study demonstrated that the generative design framework is capable of offering more favourable solutions (i.e., either or both of reduced costs and increased energy revenue) compared to baseline scenarios. It is observed that, in the majority of the studied scenarios, the optimum solutions favored a more consistent orientation of the panels (i.e., consistent pan and tilt angles across all the panels).

Original languageEnglish
Article number111787
JournalEnergy and buildings
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • BIM
  • Generative design
  • Optimization
  • Optimum PV layout
  • PV modules
  • Simulation
  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • 2023 OA procedure


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