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Solar Ordinance

Energy and Green Building Code Requirements for New Construction

Energy Reach Code and Solar Requirements

When you have to comply: As of May 1, 2017, Santa Monica enforces an Energy Reach Code approved by the California Energy Commission and adopted by the Santa Monica City Council.  All new residential and commercial construction projects must comply. All new construction projects in which an entirely new structure is constructed or involves demolition in which 50 percent or more of the exterior wall elements are removed, or are no longer a necessary and integral structural component of the overall building.

Single Family Home and Low-rise Residential (3 stories or less)

Energy Reach Code:  All new single family homes and low-rise residential projects shall be designed to use fifteen percent (15%) less energy than the allowed energy budget established by the 2016 California Energy Code, and achieve an Energy Design Rating (EDR) of Zero, which necessitates on-site solar photovoltaics (PV).  The PV system size will be determined by the Title 24 energy modeling and achieving an EDR of Zero. See 8.36.020 Energy Efficiency.

Compliance with the Single Family Home and Low-Rise Multi-Family Energy Code (SMMC Chapter 8.36 Energy Code) shall serve to satisfy the prescriptive solar photovoltaic requirements (disregard the 1.5 watts of PV per square foot) of Chapter 8.106.055.

Project teams shall submit a Title 24 Compliance Report to plan review showing the percentage improvement over Title 24, and for residential projects the Energy Design Rating of Zero.  Please visit the Office of Sustainability and the Environment's Green Building page for additional information.

If a new pool is to be heated, renewable energy shall be used. The surface area of the solar collectors used to generate such renewable energy is equal to or greater than 70% of the surface area of the pool; or solar must provide at least 60% of the total energy necessary for heating purpose. 

The photovoltaic requirement takes priority of there is a conflict between photovoltaics and pool heating. 

High-rise residential, non-residential, hotels and motels

All new high-rise residential buildings (4+stories), non-residential buildings, hotels and motels shall be designed to use ten percent (10%) less energy than the allowed energy budget established by the 2016 California Energy Code. See 8.36.030 Energy Efficiency

The minimum solar photovoltaic system required for high-rise residential, non-residential, hotels and motels is 2 watts per square foot of the building footprint.

If a new pool is to be heated, renewable energy shall be used. The surface area of the solar collectors used to generate such renewable energy is equal to or greater than seventy percent (70%) of the surface area of the pool; or renewable energy provides at least sixty percent (60%) of the total energy necessary for heating purpose. 

Solar Waiver

The solar requirements shall be waived or reduced, by the minimum extent necessary where solar is infeasible due to lack of available and feasible unshaded area. Unshaded area is where sun is unobstructed by fixed objects during the majority of daylight hours between March 21st and September 21st.

Plan Approval and Assistance

All plans go through Building and Safety for review, approval, then routed to Planning and Fire for approval. Office of Sustainability & the Environment (OSE) staff is not involved in plan approval, but can assist in your design, make recommendations, meet with customers and their representatives.  Contact Building and Safety at (310) 458-8355.  For an OSE representative, call (310) 458-8391, or email Drew.Lowell@smgov.net

 

Planning and Zoning Requirements for Solar

9.21.150 Solar Energy Systems

A.    This Section establishes ministerial development standards for solar energy systems applicable to all solar energy system installations. Solar energy systems proposed on existing buildings shall be exempt from review and approval by the Architectural Review Board, provided that the installations meet the standards in this Section. Solar energy systems proposed as part of a larger construction project that requires Architectural Review Board approval shall be reviewed by the Architectural Review Board in accordance with the standards in this Section.

B.    Standards.

1.     Visibility. Excluding solar collector panels, their necessary support structure, and conduit, solar energy systems shall not be visible from the public right-of-way adjacent to the front property line.

a.     Except on single-unit properties, solar collector panels, their necessary support structure(s), and conduit(s), shall be installed in the location that is the least visible from abutting streets directly facing the subject property so long as installation in that location does not significantly decrease the energy performance or significantly increase the costs of the solar energy system as compared to a more visible location.

i.      For energy performance, "significantly decrease" shall be defined as decreasing the expected annual energy production by more than 10 percent.

ii.     For the cost of solar energy systems, "significantly increase" shall be defined as increasing the cost of a photovoltaic solar energy system by more than $1,000.00 or the cost of a solar water or swimming pool heating system by more than 10 percent.

b.     The review and determination of the cost or energy efficiency of installation alternatives shall be made by the City's Energy and Green Building Programs staff. The review and determination of the least visible alternative shall be made by the Director.

2.     Height. The height of solar energy systems is subject to the following standards:

a.     On Single-Unit Properties: Photovoltaic solar energy systems may extend up to 5 feet above the height limit in the District in which it is located. Solar water or swimming pool heating systems may extend up to 7 feet above the height limit in the District in which it is located; and

b.     On all other Properties: Photovoltaic solar energy systems may extend up to 5 feet above the roof surface on which they are installed, even if this exceeds the maximum height limit in the District in which it is located. Solar water or swimming pool heating systems may extend up to 7 feet above the roof surface on which they are installed even if this exceeds the maximum height limit in the District in which it is located.

3.     Required Setback. Excluding solar collector panels, solar energy system equipment may be installed within the required side and rear setback but shall not be closer than 2 feet to any property line.

4.     Historic Properties. On a property containing a designated Landmark or contributing structure to a designated Historic District as defined in Chapter 9.56, solar energy systems that meet the criteria established in this Section shall be permitted provided that a Certificate of Appropriateness is approved by the Director.

5.     Alternative Review. Proposed solar energy installations on all property types that do not meet the standards set forth in this Section shall not be authorized unless approved by the Architectural Review Board in accordance with Chapter 9.55, Architectural Review, prior to issuance of a building permit, except that such installations shall require a Certificate of Appropriateness by the Landmarks Commission in accordance with Chapter 9.56 when located on a property containing a designated Landmark or contributing structure to a designated Historic District. These reviewing bodies may authorize installations that exceed the height limit in the applicable District by a maximum of 14 feet. (Added by Ord. No. 2486CCS §§ 1, 2, adopted June 23, 2015; amended by Ord. No. 2520CCS § 20, adopted June 14, 2016)

 

 

Last updated: Monday, 04/01/2019

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Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment
1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-2213 · TTY (310) 917-6626