California is the first state in the Union to include a solar mandate for new low-rise (three stories or less) residential construction under the 2019 California Energy Code. Luckily, developers will realize return-on-investment on the additional costs for providing photovoltaic panels. After speaking to many residential developers, here are their top 5 questions:
- Do I have to install solar on existing buildings?
Answer: No. The solar mandate is only for new residential buildings that are three habitable stories or less from grade.
- How much will solar cost me?
Answer: It depends on the type of system specified and the efficiency of the panels. However, the average cost would be about $4,000 per unit for rooftop solar for slab-on-grade multifamily projects. This does not include the cost for placing PV on carports.
- How much solar do I need? Do we need to be at Zero Net Energy?
Answer: Zero Net Energy is not required. The amount of solar needed is based on an Energy Design Ratio (EDR) produced by State compliant energy modeling software. You may need 1.6 kW to 2.4 kW of production per unit depending on unit sizes and the project’s climate zone. The energy model should be ran as early as schematic design if possible.
- Who benefits from the renewable power generated on site?
Answer: The PV system will be tied to the main meter, so the owner of the property should realize the financial benefits – a four- to six-year payback depending on site energy demand.
- Can we purchase clean power credits from the grid?
Answer: No. Any solar generation, including that of Community Solar, must be tied directly to the buildings that are on site.
For more information on how to size the PV systems for your new low-rise residential buildings, contact VCA Green below.
Moe Fakih, Principal