Rooftop Solar Mandated For All New Buildings In San Francisco

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April 21, 2016

San Francisco set a lofty goal for itself when it said it wanted to be 100 percent powered by renewable energy by 2025. As part of this goal, a regulation was passed that required all new building projects to leave 15 percent of the building’s roof clear of obstructions, un-shaded, and ready for solar power, ‘solar ready’ as it is described. A new ordinance takes this one step further in the hopes of helping to meet the city’s renewable energy goal.

The ordinance, which was unanimously passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors now requires all new residential and commercial buildings to actually include rooftop solar on 15 percent of the roof, be it in the form of solar electric or solar water heating, as opposed to just leaving room for it to be added later, Treehugger.com reports.

As with the old regulation, it only applies to buildings that are less than 10 floors, which is not all that large a number for an already highly developed metro like San Francisco. In addition, building in San Francisco is already very difficult because of an extensive list of rules and regulations, so this could just become one more on a growing list of challenges builders face in the Bay Area city. A challenge that could hinder construction and lessen an already critically low inventory further.

While this new ordinance won’t bring the city up to its 100 percent renewable energy goal on its own, it will at least help. It is estimated it could add an additional 7.4 MW of rooftop solar energy to the cities current 24.8 MW. That addition is enough to power around 2,500 homes annually, a relatively small number, but a step forward. The new ordinance is set to go into effect on January 1, 2017.

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