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Not only is the energy from the sun endless, it is also clean with no greenhouse gas emissions. Using solar energy is a very green and rewarding experience that architects nowadays are designing and implementing solar power systems to skyscrapers, major companies, schools, and even nurseries. These net-zero energy systems can be eye-catching as well as beneficial. Eventually, who said solar power systems have to be ugly?!

Here are some of the best-looking buildings to implement the use of solar energy:

1) David & Lucile Packard Foundation Headquarters – California, USA

Courtesy of AIA – Photography: Jeremy Bittermann

At the south of San Francisco Bay, stands one of the most prominent grantmaking foundations in the US which aims at the welfare of children and their science empowerment in addition to protecting and restoring Earth’s natural systems. This net-zero HQ uses 915 rooftop photovoltaic panels to generate power to be 100% energy-self-sufficient. It was awarded as the top 10 green building in 2014.

2) Powerhouse Kjørbo – Oslo, Norway

Courtesy of Snøhetta

The previously existing office building was renovated by Snøhetta Architects in a way to transform it into an environmentally friendly one. The solar panels built on the roof produce twice the amount of energy it needs, offering the possibility of providing the excess power to other buildings in the area.

3) International Renewable Energy Agency Headquarters – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Courtesy of Bagot Woods

This beauty was added to the rapidly evolving Abu Dhabi skyline in 2015. It is the first building in Abu Dhabi to be awarded the Pearl Estidama Construction rating certificate by the Abu Dhabi Planning Council, which aims to promote the development of sustainable buildings. The building which has a 1000m2 photovoltaic system installed on the rooftop was designed by Architect and Lead Consultant Woods Bagot.

4) Apple Park in Cupertino – California, USA

Courtesy of Foster + Partners

Designed by the British firm Foster + Partners, this masterpiece of a building with its flying-saucer-like design is expected to open by the end of 2017. It has the largest solar arrays for a corporate building in the world. The $5 billion-worth HQ has a vast rooftop surface area which is used to install thousands of solar panels with an estimated output of 16 megawatts of power.

5) Moray Street Residential Tower – Melbourne, Australia

Courtesy of Peddle Thorp Architects

This 60-story apartment building, designed by the architecture firm Peddle Thorp, is where you see technology and architecture hand in hand. In addition to the roof, the façade is cladded with solar panels, allowing the expansion of the surface area available for renewable power from 4,305 square feet to 37,673 square feet.

6) General Electric HQ Building – Boston, USA

Courtesy of Gensler

These new sustainable headquarters of GE, designed by Gensler architectural firm, is expected to open in 2018. The 12-story glass building is designed in the form of a huge solar sail ”veil”. The solar slats of the “veil” allow the passage of light before it is reflected by their photovoltaic surfaces.

7) Tesla Gigafactory – Nevada, USA

Tesla’s Gigafactory – Courtesy of Tesla

The current plan for this factory, that will open in 2020, is to cover the whole roof with solar panels, and that’s not all. Tesla rooted for the idea of installing arrays on the nearby hillsides to maximize energy production. That came after Tesla decided not to build a natural gas pipeline to force the implementation of a sustainable architectural system.

8) Copenhagen International School – Copenhagen, Denmark

Courtesy of C.F. Møller

In a green spin on how form follows function, C.F. Møller Architects designed the school to feature the world’s largest solar façade. The building has more than 12,000 colored solar panels that are integrated into the building’s structure. This will produce half the energy needs of the school (around 300-megawatt hours per year). The clean energy approach which the school is pursuing was the reason behind integrating Solar Studies in the curriculum.

9) Further Education Centre at Mont-Cenis – Herne, Germany

Courtesy of HHS Architekten

The greenhouse-like building envelops a total area of 12,000 square meters in glass, creating natural micro-climate inside. The roof canopy serves a dual purpose. It is made up of solar panels, so it generates power as well as shades the inside of the center. The center was designed by the firm HHS planner + Architekten.

10) NEW-Blauhaus – Mönchengladbach, Germany

Courtesy of Kadawittfeld Architecture – Photography: Andreas Horsky

Designed by Kadawittfeldarchitektur, the shiny, sleek, blue façade of the university is not merely glass, but rather, a tessellation of solar panels and windows. The row of panels across the exterior can rotate following the sun for maximum energy production.

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