San Francisco approves measure to require solar panels on new buildings

Scott Wiener
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The city of San Francisco voted to approve a measure that will require the installation of solar panels on all new buildings of 10 stories or fewer. With climate change at the forefront of the discussion, the city’s board voted unanimously to set the rule and make the tech hub the largest U.S. city to require solar panels on new construction. The move is intended to help the city reach its ambitious goal of being powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2020.

As a hotspot for tech companies, San Francisco is the logical home to such an ordinance, but it isn’t the first California city to enact such a requirement. Smaller cities, like the nearby Sebastopol in Sonoma County, already have similar regulations. San Francisco’s new law will become effective January 2017, requiring all new buildings in the city with 10 stories or fewer to install either rooftop solar PV or solar thermal panels. Existing California state law already outlines a requirement for all new buildings to have at least 15 percent of their roof space exposed to sunshine, in order to allow for future solar panel use, so the city’s new rule builds on that.

The city’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the new rule. The requirement makes San Francisco the largest U.S. city to enact such a mandate. Although New York City has a host of green initiatives of its own, leaders there have stopped short of a solar panel requirement, instead opting to pass rules that require city-owned buildings to slash energy usage.

City Supervisor Scott Wiener, who introduced the rule, believes it will set an example for other large cities to get serious about renewable energy commitments and pave the way for other types of green building requirements. “In a dense, urban environment, we need to be smart and efficient about how we maximize the use of our space to achieve goals such as promoting renewable energy and improving our environment,” he said in a statement.

SolarPod rooftop solar
SolarPod rooftop solar

San Francisco from Marin Highlands

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