Environmental and Human Health
Solar technologies reduce the thirst
for fossil fuels for energy generation, thereby reducing air pollution and
greenhouse gas emissions and their associated impacts on the environment and
human health…in other words, on us.
Regulations and Guidelines
Installation of solar technologies
requires plan check approval by the Building and Safety Division of the City.
Fees for solar electric and solar hot water systems are waived to encourage
adoption of these technologies. Plans can often be checked over the
counter. An ordinance requires the use of solar hot water systems for new
(heated) pools in most building types in Santa Monica.
Solar thermal technologies are a
reliable primary heating source for domestic hot water in homes and businesses
in Santa Monica. A good design target is to meet 80% of hot water requirements
with solar heating. Still-working systems installed in the 1970s and 1980s
attest to the reliability and applicability of this technology in our
Solar electric (photovoltaic)
systems can also provide up to 100% of the electric energy needs in a home or
business. High performance houses and buildings that are built
efficiently, or ones that are retrofitted with efficient systems, can meet
virtually all their energy needs from on-site renewable sources. These homes
and buildings are termed “net zero” since they effectively produce all the
energy they need, requiring zero additional energy to operate.
Solar thermal systems cost between $6,000 and $10,000
or more but can offset up to 80% of gas used for water heating. The returns on
invested dollars are often the same or better than photovoltaic system
Solar electric (photovoltaic) systems have an initial
cost of around $8,000 to $10,000 per kilowatt (kW) installed. A typical home
would require between 2 and 6 kW. Rebates from the California Energy
Commission (CEC) vary between residential and commercial applications, but can
offset between 1,550 and $2,200 per kW of installed solar photovoltaics. Along
with federal income tax credits offered through the end of this calendar year,
the out of pocket costs can be reduced to between $2,000 and $6,000 per
kilowatt, which allow returns on investment of between 5% and 50% !
Vendors and Availability
There are many major manufacturers
and installers of solar technologies. Visit the Green Building Resource
Center at 2218 Main Street to acquire a comprehensive list of local solar
installers, or stop by the Solar Santa Monica office at 1212 5th
Street for their list of preferred providers and to sign up for their free
Resources and Websites
Santa Monica Residents
and businesses save money by installing low-cost energy efficiency items along
with non-polluting, reliable solar systems on their roofs. The vision is
to provide all our city’s power needs by 2020. City staff help those unfamiliar
with the process of making a home efficient and solar-ready. Visit their
website to learn more, or stop by their offices at 1212 5th Street,
First Floor. http://www.solarsantamonica.com/main/index.html
Building Resource Center -
located right here in Santa Monica at 2218 Main Street, sponsored by the City,
and operated by Global Green USA.
Engineering Society This link will take you to a group of really smart people
that deal with issues of solar power and engineering. Good stuff!
National Renewable Energy Lab A most
informative website concerning solar power and other clean and renewable energy
Solar Living Institute
Promoting sustainable living through inspirational environmental
This website has a diverse set of products, such as ovens, radios, backpacks
and many other items that utilize photovoltaic technology.