Modular façade system concept
Definition and design of a prefabricated and modular façade system to incorporate solar harvesting technologies





Multifunctional prefabricated façade, Industrialization, Renewable integration, Façade renovation


The current research presents the design and development of a prefabricated modular façade solution for renovating residential buildings. The system is conceived as an industrialised solution that incorporates solar harvesting technologies, contributing to reducing energy consumption by employing an “active façade” concept.

One of the main challenges was to achieve a highly flexible solution both in terms of geometry and enabling the incorporation of different solar-capturing devices (photovoltaic, thermal, and hybrid). Therefore, to be able to provide alternative customised configurations that can be fitted to various building renovation scenarios. Guided by the requirements and specifications, the design was defined after an iterative process, concluding with a final system design validated and adopted as viable for the intended purpose.

A dimensional study for interconnecting all the technologies composing the system was carried out. Potential alternative configurations were assessed under the modularity and versatility perspective, resulting in a set of alternative combinations that better fit the established requirements. Complementarily, the system also integrates an active window solution a component that incorporates an autonomous energy recovery system through ventilation.

The main outcome is explicated in a highly versatile modular façade system, which gives existing buildings the possibility to achieve Nearly Zero Energy Building requirements.

How to Cite

Alvarez-Alava, I., Elguezabal, P., Jorge, N., Armijos-Moya, T., & Konstantinou, T. (2023). Definition and design of a prefabricated and modular façade system to incorporate solar harvesting technologies. Journal of Facade Design and Engineering, 11(2), 001–028.




Artola, I., Rademaekers, K., Williams, R., & Yearwood, J. (2016). Boosting Building Renovation: What Potential and Value for Europe?: Study: European Parliament.

Avesani, S., Andaloro, A., Ilardi, S., Orlandi, M., Terletti, S., & Fedrizzi, R. (2020). Development of an Off-site Prefabricated Rainscreen Façade System for Building Energy Retrofitting. Journal of Façade Design and Engineering, 8(2), 39–58.

Bonato, P., Fedrizzi, R., D’Antoni, M., Meir, M., (editors) (2019). State-of-the-art and SWOT analysis of building integrated solar envelope systems: IEA SHC Task 46, Deliverables A1 and A2. Retrieved from

Broers, W., Vasseur, V., Kemp, R., Abujidi, N., & Vroon, Z. (2019). Decided or divided? An empirical analysis of the decision-making process of Dutch homeowners for energy renovation measures. Energy Research & Social Science, 58, 101284. DOI:

CEN - European Committee for Standardization, (2020). EN 13830:2015+A1:2020, Curtain walling – Product standard

CEN - European Committee for Standardization, (2016). EN 50583: Photovoltaics in buildings

Colinart, T., Bendouma, M., & Glouannec, P. (2019). Building renovation with prefabricated ventilated façade element: A case study. Energy and Buildings. DOI:

CTE DB-HE - Technical building code, basic document Energy Saving, Spanish government (2022).

CTE DB-SE-AE- Technical building code, basic document Loads on the buildings, Spanish government (2009).

DIRECTIVE. (2018/844/EU). on the energy performance of building. Brussels: THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL Retrieved from

DIRECTIVE. (P9_TA(2023)0068). on the energy performance of building (recast). Brussels: THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL Retrieved from

de Gracia, A., Castell, A., Navarro, L., Oró, E., & Cabeza, L. F. (2013). Numerical modelling of ventilated façades: A review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 22, 539–549. DOI:

D’Oca, S., Ferrante, A., Ferrer, C., Pernetti, R., Gralka, A., Sebastian, R., & Op ‘t Veld, P. (2018). Technical, Financial, and Social Barriers and Challenges in Deep Building Renovation: Integration of Lessons Learned from the H2020 Cluster Projects. Buildings, 8(12), 174. DOI:

Du, H., Huang, P., & Jones, P. (2019). Modular façade retrofit with renewable energy technologies: The definition and current status in Europe. Energy and Buildings, 205, 109543. DOI:

Economidou, M., Atanasiu, B., Despret, C., Maio, J., Nolte, I., Rapf, O., . . . Strong, D. (2011). Europe’s Buildings Under the Microscope; 2011. Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE).

Elguezabal, P., & Arregi, B. (2018). An analysis of the potential of envelope-integrated solar heating and cooling technologies for reducing energy consumption in European climates. Journal of Facade Design and Engineering, 6(2), 085–094.

Efthymiou, E., Cöcen, O. N., & Ermolli, S. R. (2010). Sustainable aluminium systems. Sustainability, 2(9), 3100–3109. DOI:

EOTA – European Organisation for Technical Assessment. (2018), EAD 090062-00-0404: Kits for external claddings mechanically fixed. Retrieved from

European Commission. (2019). The European Green Deal. Brussels Retrieved from

European Commission. (2020). A Renovation Wave for Europe - greening our buildings, creating jobs, improving lives. Brussels Retrieved from

European Commission. (2021). ‘Fit for 55’: delivering the EU’s 2030 Climate Target on the way to climate neutrality. Brussels Retrieved from

Ferdous, W., Bai, Y., Ngo, T. D., Manalo, A., & Mendis, P. (2019). New advancements, challenges and opportunities of multi-storey modular buildings – A state-of-the-art review. Engineering Structures (Vol. 183, pp. 883–893). Elsevier Ltd. DOI:

Filippidou, F., Nieboer, N., & Visscher, H. (2016). Energy efficiency measures implemented in the Dutch non-profit housing sector. Energy and Buildings, 132, 107-116. DOI:

Gagliano, A., & Aneli, S. (2020). Analysis of the energy performance of an Opaque Ventilated Façade under winter and summer weather conditions. Solar Energy, 205, 531–544. DOI:

INSST - Ministry of Labour and Immigration, Government of Spain. Manual handling of loads. Technical guideline of National Institute of Health and Safety at Work (2011). 27a8b126-a827-4edd-aa4c-7c0ca0a86cda (

Jensen, P. A., Maslesa, E., Berg, J. B., & Thuesen, C. (2018). 10 questions concerning sustainable building renovation. Building and Environment, 143, 130-137. DOI:

Lessing, J. (2006). Industrialized House-Building: Concept and processes, Licensiate thesis. Lund: Lund University. Retrieved from

Li, Y., & Chen, L. (2022). Investigation of European modular façade system utilizing renewable energy. International Journal of Low-Carbon Technologies, 17, 279-299. DOI:

Mitma - Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Agenda of the Government of Spain (2023). Inspection and safety in overland transport. Weights and dimensions. Esquema Longitud - Vehículos rígidos, Tren de carreteras, Vehículos articulados, Trenes de carretera de transporte de vehículos | Ministerio de Transportes, Movilidad y Agenda Urbana (

Moran, P., O’Connell, J., & Goggins, J. (2020). Sustainable energy efficiency retrofits as residenial buildings move towards nearly zero energy building (NZEB) standards. Energy and Buildings, 211., N. H., Sartori, I., Heidrich, O., Dawson, R., Dascalaki, E., Dimitriou, S., . . . Zavrl, M. Š. (2016). Dynamic building stock modelling: Application to 11 European countries to support the energy efficiency and retrofit ambitions of the EU. Energy and Buildings, 132, 26-38. DOI:

Navaratnam, S., Ngo, T., Gunawardena, T., & Henderson, D. (2019). Performance review of prefabricated building systems and future research in Australia. Buildings, Vol. 9, Issue 2. MDPI AG. (EU) No 305/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2011 laying down harmonized conditions for the marketing of construction products and repealing Council Directive 89/106/EEC Text with EEA relevance. Retrieved from:

Semprini, G., Gulli, R., & Ferrante, A. (2017). Deep regeneration vs shallow renovation to achieve nearly Zero Energy in existing buildings: Energy saving and economic impact of design solutions in the housing stock of Bologna. Energy and Buildings, 156, 327-342. DOI:

Streicher, K. N., Mennel, S., Chambers, J., Parra, D., & Patel, M. K. (2020). Cost-effectiveness of large-scale deep energy retrofit packages for residential buildings under different economic assessment approaches. Energy and Buildings, 215. DOI:

Tsemekidi-Tzeiranaki, S., Bertoldi, P., Paci, D., Castellazzi, L., Serrenho, T., Economidou, M., & Zangheri, P. (2020). Energy consumption and energy efficiency trends in the EU-28, 2000-2018. EUR 30328 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, ISBN 978-92-76-21074-0, doi: 10.2760/847849. Retrieved from:

Van Roosmalen, M., Herrmann, A., & Kumar, A. (2021). A review of prefabricated self-sufficient façades with integrated decentralized HVAC and renewable energy generation and storage. Energy and Buildings (248). Elsevier Ltd. DOI:

Viana, D., Tommelein, I., & Formoso, C. (2017). Using Modularity to Reduce Complexity of Industrialized Building Systems for Mass Customization. Energies, 10(10), 1622. DOI:

Wasim, M., Han, T. M., Huang, H., Madiyev, M., & Ngo, T. D. (2020). An approach for sustainable, cost-effective and optimised material design for the prefabricated non-structural components of residential buildings. Journal of Building Engineering, 32. DOI:

Wilson, C., Pettifor, H., & Chryssochoidis, G. (2018). Quantitative modelling of why and how homeowners decide to renovate energy efficiently. Applied energy, 212, 1333-1344. DOI: