SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, April 26 the Santa Monica City Council approved a bill that will require rooftop solar systems for all new construction within the city limits. This requirement includes both residential and commercial construction. The ordinance will go into effect 30 days from when the vote took place. This decision continues the trend to make Santa Monica a very ‘green’ city and environmentally friendly.
“In Santa Monica we are moving away from buildings powered by fossil fuels in favor of clean and cost-effective solar energy,” said Santa Monica’s Sustainability Manager Dean Kubani in a statement. “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.”
The decision to create this ordinance comes at a time when the market for solar power is extremely favorable. The cost of solar installation continues to decrease, which will allow Santa Monica residents and developers to generate cost effective renewable energy, improve the value of their home or property, and pay a pivotal role in contributing to the city’s long-range goals for energy and climate mitigation. The city of Santa Monica has the goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.
The decrease in solar installation means that the cost-benefit ratio is very strong. According to recent studies, new solar power ordinances will increase the upfront construction costs by 2.8 percent on average for a single-family home, but will reduce the long-term electricity costs by 65 percent on average. For multi-family homes, the numbers are 0.5 percent and 24 percent on average, respectively. On commercial buildings, 0.75 percent and 11 percent on average, respectively.
“I am proud to represent a district that recognizes the global responsibility this nation faces to deploy the best strategies at our disposal to prevent climate change and stimulate the green economy,” said Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) in a statement. “As California moves forward with the most progressive climate strategy in the country, we welcome leaders like Santa Monica who push the boundaries.”
The Santa Monica Municipal Green Building Ordinance states:
- New single family dwellings are required 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). That means a 2,000 square foot home would need a 3-kilowatt system, which is a typical size already seen in many homes.
- New multi-family dwellings and non-residential, hotel, motel are required to 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). that means a 4-story building, with a building footprint of 10,000 square feet, would need a 20-kilowatt system.
“Santa Monica is entering summer in the midst of transformational developments to improve our great city. This action has special meaning to me having attended the historic summit in Paris late last year,” said Mayor Tony Vazquez in a statement. “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. Solar for all new construction combined with the Expo Line completion in May signal the City’s continued leadership in sustainable planning for the 21st Century.”
For questions and information on implementing the new requirement, please contact the City’s Office of Sustainability & the Environment at www.sustainablesm.org.