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Pre-normative research on the fire safety of solar building envelopes (in progress)

What we are doing and why

The VBA is supporting research by RMIT University through a research grant to better understand the fire safety risks associated with the installation of solar panels on the facades of multi-storey buildings.

Solar building envelopes, also known as Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV), offer important contributions to achieving net-zero energy buildings. BIPV panels attach to building vertical structures and can harvest solar energy without the need for extensive roof space.

Fire safety is of vital concern in the use of BIPV in buildings. It is essential that BIPV use on building facades and roofs to replace conventional building materials does not adversely affect the safety of building occupants and fire fighters, or the structural performance of buildings. Limited studies exist for the building industry to fully understand the fire risks of BIPV.

The research aims to provide new information to help understand the performance of BIPV in fire conditions, and identify the fire performance requirements and testing required to demonstrate acceptable levels of safety for its use in building facades.

RMIT University’s Associate Professor Rebecca Yang is leading the research. Further information about RMIT’s research on solar energy adoption in the building sector and urban environment is available from RMIT University.

What we have achieved so far

Due for completion in 2022, this research complements research the VBA is already supporting to achieve a technologically advanced and innovative industry, and safe buildings.