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Buildings 2013, 3(4), 659-673;

Framing the Sun and Buildings as Commons

Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, 265 Materials Research Laboratory, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Received: 7 August 2013 / Revised: 3 September 2013 / Accepted: 13 September 2013 / Published: 25 September 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Conscious Architecture)
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This study frames integration of Solar Energy Conversion Systems (SECS) with the built environment, addressing on-site limitations for resource allocation in the urban context. The Sun, buildings, and solar technologies are investigated as resource systems within Ostrom’s framework of the commons and shared governance, with associated goods (as resource units) appropriated from light conversion (products of daylight, heat, power, shade, money). Light is transient and unevenly distributed across the hours of the day across the year. Building surfaces utilized to convert light into useful products such as electricity are often “area-constrained” and cannot provide total power to all occupants in urban structures. Being unevenly distributed over time and being area-constrained makes the appropriated goods from the solar resource system scarce to commercial buildings and multi-family residences. Scarce commodities require management strategies to distribute the variable returns derived from technologies such as PV and solar hot water. The balance between sustainable urban communities and limited surface area to deliver solar products to all occupants will soon drive communities to consider how the solar goods are managed and allocated. Examples demonstrate management of solar resource and associated goods through collective actions of local communities via utility sponsored models, solar gardens, and crowd-sourced investment. View Full-Text
Keywords: solar; common pool resource; solar utility solar; common pool resource; solar utility

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Brownson, J.R.S. Framing the Sun and Buildings as Commons. Buildings 2013, 3, 659-673.

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