Introduction and SWOT analysis

Urban Sol Plus quest for architectural integration solutions aimed at collecting a wide set of different cases for integrating solar thermal collectors within building’s architecture, maintaining, and even enhancing the architectural value of the building. Taking advantageous of the integration properties solar thermal collectors may represent, the integration concepts approach the installation of solar collectors as part of the roof cover, as the main material of the roof cover, as an integrating part of the attic or the attic windows system, or integrated in the building façade. Most of the solutions approach the compatibility between solar collectors and its application as a construction material that can replace conventional construction materials, such as roof tiles or facades covering materials. The cases present cover both residential and service buildings, new construction and refurbishment works, modern and historical buildings, highlighting the versatility of solar thermal collectors, and the important role this technology plays in improving buildings energy performance. At the residential level most solutions are based on forced circulation systems, evidence of the complex task that can be to integrate thermosiphon systems, given the external deposit. In services buildings solar thermal collectors are used for hot water demands mostly in sports centres and for acclimatization purposes in office buildings. Despite the easiest task to integrate solar thermal collectors in new constructions, renovations and building qualifications are also successfully presented, as an opportunity when undergoing a building refurbishment. Solutions are also already available for historical buildings, where the integration dilemma steps up, as the system compulsory needs to assure the integrity of the building and the safeguard of its historical value, while providing the building with the most advanced and efficient solutions for producing hot water and heating services.

A total of 26 cases are available. Check it!

Despite being presented as individual cases some common lessons can be retained from the SWOT analysis regarding the integration of solar thermal collectors in buildings, namely in historically classified buildings.


SWOT Analysies:


  • solar thermal systems should be presented as an opportunity to enhance building’s energy performance adopting renewable energy sources, particularly when passive solutions are not possible;
  • the integration should be based on existing solar thermal products (collectors)
  • promote the integration of the collectors as construction materials, replacing the use of other materials (the avoided costs  of those materials can be considered a “discount” in the collectors acquisition);
  • solutions should follow the Municipality’s normative on roofs intervention;
  • communication with the technical department in the Municipality;


  • usually the solar thermal system is addressed lately in the engineering design phase, what difficulties the integration in the architecture project;
  • the architecture of some buildings may require custom-sized collectors what up-scales the costs of the systems up to prohibitive levels;
  • several intervenient in the construction/refurbishment process difficult the process;
  • the lack of compulsory data and performance indicators hinders the quantification of system losses due to integration compared with non-integrated systems;


  • enhance the communication with the local authorities, especially the urbanism department to define integration manuals, concepts and solutions adequate to the local reality;
  • promote role models for the integration of STS in buildings, especially historical buildings, in cooperation with renown architects and engineers;
  • Disseminate the ST impact in buildings energy performance, namely in historical buildings, where the adoption of other energy improvement measures is more difficult;


  • Solar thermal collectors integration may imply a larger installation, more difficult in terms of integration and available area and in terms of investment costs;
  • Solar thermal collectors integration may compete with other roof occupations;
  • Citizens perception: citizens should be aware of the potentialities for integrating solar collectors as the their miss perception may hinder the good acceptance of this solution;
  • The integration in existing buildings can only be effectively achieved if the installation happens in parallel with a refurbishment action, otherwise the costs for intervention become unbearable;
  • The installation of a solar thermal system during refurbishment is an opportunity but it also represents an additional investment in an already costly intervention what may inhibit the installation;


  • Provide integration solutions and concepts applied to existing buildings, identified areas, foreseeing integrated interventions at the building level;
  • Assure the monitoring of solar thermal installations to quantify it’s effective performance and identify the eventual loses associated to the integration demands;
  • Present detailed investment solutions, considering the solar collectors as part of the building, performing functional properties and avoiding the extra costs in other materials.


This task is not over, so feel welcome to contribute. Let us know about architectural integration solutions in your city.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   and submit your case!

EC BREC Institute for Renewable Energy, Str. Mokotowska 4/6, Warsaw, phone: +48 22 825 46 52