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Santa Monica to Require Solar Rooftops on New Buildings
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310)828-7525 -

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

May 4, 2016 -- At the end of the month, Santa Monica will start requiring solar rooftops for all new buildings, becoming the fourth municipality in California with such a law on the books.

All new construction, residential and commercial, is covered by Santa Monica’s ordinance, which was approved by the City Council on April 26 and is set to go into effect 30 days later.

“In Santa Monica, we are moving away from buildings powered by fossil fuels in favor of clean and cost-effective solar energy,” said Dean Kubani, the City’s Sustainability Manager.

“This is not only the smart thing to do, it is also imperative if we are to protect our kids and grandkids from the worst effects of climate change,” he said.

The California cities of Lancaster and Sebastopol started mandating rooftop solar panels in 2013, and San Francisco’s own law takes effect in January of 2017.

Santa Monica’s new law, which updates its Green Building Ordinance, requires new single-family homes to install a solar electric photovoltaic (PV) system, with a minimum total wattage of 1.5 times the square footage of the dwelling (1.5 watts per square foot).

New multi-family dwellings and hotels and motels must install a solar electric PV system with a minimum total wattage 2.0 times the square footage of the building footprint (2.0 watts per square foot of building footprint).

Kubani said that a four-story building with a footprint of 10,000 square feet would need a 20 kilowatt system under the new law.

He also said that the cost of going solar is decreasing these days and that the “cost-benefit ratio is strong.”

Using solar on rooftops adds an average of 2.8 percent to upfront building costs for single-family homes on average, but cuts electricity costs by 65 percent on average over the long term, Kubani said.

Kubani also said that for multi-family homes, rooftop solar adds about 0.5 percent to the cost but saves 24 percent in electricity bills on average. On commercial construction, the added cost is about 0.75 percent, with a long-term average savings of 11 percent percent, he said.

The ordinance is one of a handful of new updates to the City’s Green Building Ordinance, which requires water-efficient landscaping and renewable-energy technology for residential and commercial projects.

In addition to the new rooftop solar panels, the law now requires retrofitting or replacing old irrigation systems and the planting of “sustainable” landscaping in new construction, among other changes.

The City’s overall goal is to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

“Covering our new buildings with renewable energy helps us address the challenge of climate change while ensuring Santa Monica builds cost-effective, resilient properties that maintain value,” Mayor Tony Vazquez said in a statement.

State law already requires most new construction to have 15 percent of the rooftop solar ready, meaning builders could, if desired, install photovoltaic systems.

Santa Monica’s new law, like those of the other cities in California that have adopted similar measures, goes a step further by mandating installation for new construction.

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