Solar panels on a roof with a sunset and clouds behind the building

Image by tawatchai07 | Freepik

Good news from the California Energy Commission (CEC)!

The CEC has clarified that areas of the roof “required to be used by other provisions of the California Building Standards Code” can be deducted from the Solar Access Roof Area (SARA). Here are the relevant California fire codes:

1205.3 Other Than Group R-3 Buildings
Access to systems for buildings, other than those containing Group R-3 occupancies, shall be provided in accordance with Sections 1205.3.1 through 1205.3.3.
Exception: Where it is determined by the fire code official that the roof configuration is similar to that of a Group R-3 occupancy, the residential access and ventilation requirements in Sections 1205.2.1.1 through 1205.2.1.3 are a suitable alternative.

1205.3.1 Perimeter Pathways
There shall be a minimum 6-foot-wide (1829 mm) clear perimeter around the edges of the roof.
Exception: Where either axis of the building is 250 feet (76 200 mm) or less, the clear perimeter around the edges of the roof shall be permitted to be reduced to a minimum width of 4 feet (1219 mm).

1205.3.2 Interior Pathways
Interior pathways shall be provided between array sections to meet the following requirements:

  • Pathways shall be provided at intervals not greater than 150 feet (45 720 mm) throughout the length and width of the roof.
  • A pathway not less than 4 feet (1219 mm) wide in a straight line to roof standpipes or ventilation hatches.
  • A pathway not less than 4 feet (1219 mm) wide around roof access hatches, with not fewer than one such pathway to a parapet or roof edge.

Contact VCA Green for your energy code navigation needs:

Moe Fakih, Principal

Robyn Vettraino, Principal