San Francisco to require rooftop solar on new buildings


San Francisco on Tuesday became California’s first major city to mandate solar installations on new buildings.

The move, which goes into effect in January, follows similar mandates passed by smaller municipalities Lancaster and Sebastopol in 2013, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

New commercial and residential buildings of up to 10 stories in height will have to install rooftop solar systems for heat or electricity under legislation that was unanimously approved by the city’s Board of Supervisors.

“In an era when we are reminded daily of our rapidly changing climate, it is so important that we continue our strong push to alternative, non-fossil fuel energies,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, who introduced the legislation.

San Francisco has set a goal to use 100% renewable energy by 2025 in addition to other ambitious environmental targets.

The San Francisco Examiner quoted Barry Hooper, the Department of Environment Green Building Coordinator, who said last week that 100% renewable energy depended “on both development of renewable energy resources and continued improvement in energy efficiency.” He added that the ordinance represented another “straightforward and pragmatic step” toward that goal.

The legislation requires solar PV systems, solar water heating systems or a combination of the two.

California state law already requires most new buildings to have 15% of the rooftop “solar ready” in order to facilitate the installation of PV systems, the newspaper said.

The legislation adds to San Francisco’s environmental efforts, which also includes a new renewable energy program, known as CleanPowerSF, set to launch later this year.