Katherine Flynn for AIA Architect writes that it probably comes as no surprise that solar power is currently the least-used energy source in the United States. It has had a lot of catching up to do. According to the Green Building Alliance, solar technology powers only 1% of the nation’s total energy consumption. But thanks in part to subsidies like the Solar Investment Tax Credit, solar power’s star is on the rise, and government data estimate that solar harvesting across the U.S. has experienced an average growth rate of more than 50% per year in the last decade.

As solar technology continues to become more efficient and more affordable, architects and other professionals are beginning to think more holistically about how solar technology can be incorporated into the design process from the beginning.

“Oftentimes solar panels might be tacked on as an afterthought after the building has already been designed, and that’s pretty unattractive, generally,” says Anthony Denzer, a professor of civil and architectural engineering at the University of Wyoming and a member of the university’s Building Energy Research Group (UW BERG).

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