San Francisco passes mandatory solar ordinance for new buildings
- San Francisco builders of all commercial or residential structures with 10 or fewer stories must now include solar panels, CIO reported.
- San Francisco Board of Supervisors officials said they unanimously passed the Better Roofs regulation to "fight climate change and reduce reliance on fossil fuels."
- The San Francisco law is in line with California's energy standards, which mandate that 15% of the roofs atop new "small and midsized" structures, also 10 stories or less, be ready for solar.
Supervisor Scott Wiener said in a statement that the law is a way to turn unused roof space into a partner of the city’s sustainable and renewable energy policies. San Francisco is no stranger to progressive energy policies, and a spokesman for the U.S. Energy Information Administration told CIO that the agency had not heard of any other municipalities enacting such a requirement.
What has increased residential and commercial use of solar energy, are tax credits, like the solar investment tax credit (ITC), which was extended late last year through the end of 2016. According to the Solar Energies Industry Association, the ITC is responsible for a 1,600% surge in solar installation since 2008 and has resulted in an 86% rise in solar industry employment. The SEIA said that extension of the ITC could very well mean 220,000 new jobs by 2020, a 100-million-metric-ton emission reduction and more than $130 billion of new investment in solar.
While San Francisco is ahead in the regulation game, there are many areas of the country where those who want to install solar energy systems on single-family homes face opposition. This is especially true with homeowners' associations, which commonly view solar panels as contrary to the aesthetics of the community. Also drawing fire in some locations are large solar farms, which critics have said ruin land and monopolize the green space.
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