Solar panels required on all new buildings under legislation

New legislation introduced Tuesday by San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener would require all new construction within the city, including residential and commercial buildings, to have solar panels installed.

The renewable energy ordinance would make San Francisco the first and only major city in the country to require the installation of solar panels on new buildings.

The legislature would also help push the city closer toward meeting its goal of having 100 percent of its energy come from a renewable source, according to Wiener’s office.

“To fight climate change and achieve a clean energy future, we need to take decisive steps to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” Wiener said in a statement.

“In a dense, urban environment, we need to be smart and efficient about how we maximize the use of our space to achieve goals like promoting renewable energy and improving our environment.”

Existing California law requires that 15 percent of roof area on new small and mid-sized residential and commercial buildings of 10 floors or less be solar ready, meaning the roof must be free of shade by the proposed building itself and free of obstructions.

Wiener’s new ordinance would add to the state law, requiring that the 15 percent solar space actually have solar panels installed.

To meet the requirement, developers can either install solar photovoltaic or solar water panels, both of which supply 100 percent renewable energy, Weiner’s office said.

A follow-up legislation that Wiener plans to introduce sometime in the near future would make living roofs, roofs that are partially or completely covered with vegetation, on new construction eligible as a substitute to meet the solar panels requirement, according to Wiener’s office.

Living roofs, similar to the one on the roof of the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, provide insulation and help soak up storm water, reducing the amount that goes into the sewer. Additionally, living roofs promote biodiversity and habitat, sequester carbon, and capture pollution.