The holy grail for adding photovoltaics (PV) to a building is making them blend in to the point of obscurity. The Solar Sandwich, a system manufactured by Perth Amboy, N.J.–based Englert, struck judges for just that reason: It is designed to look like any of the company’s other standing-seam roofing systems. Metal panels topped with thin PV laminates conceal a solar thermal system (made by Dawn Solar Systems).

The surface-mounted PVs generate electricity, but also absorb heat, which is directed into the solar thermal system underneath. Using a closed-loop system of tubes filled with glycol-enhanced water, energy is transferred from the roof to a conventional heating system where it is used to warm the building and provide hot water. But what impressed juror William Massie most was the level of integration with the roof system. It looks “so much not like anything,” he says—in a good way.

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