The 2022 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Energy Code) has solar photovoltaic (solar PV) system requirements for all newly constructed nonresidential buildings.
These requirements apply to buildings where at least 80 percent of the total floor area (conditioned or not) is made up of building types listed in Table 140.10-A, including mixed-occupancy buildings. These include:
- High-Rise multifamily
- Office, financial institutions, unleased tenant space
- Auditorium, convention center, hotel/motel, library, medical office building/clinic, restaurant, theater
These requirements do not apply to:
- Unconditioned buildings, except unoccupied or unused first-time tenant improvement spaces, as they meet the definition of newly constructed buildings
The required solar PV size is calculated per Section 140.10. A building’s energy demand is impacted by its climate zone, conditioned floor area (CFA), and space usage. The required solar PV system is intended to offset the annual electrical consumption of a mixed-fuel building such that it will self-utilize about 80 percent of the annual solar PV generation without battery storage, and about 90 percent with battery storage, over a year.
Section 140.10(a) of the 2022 Energy Code has two methods to calculate solar PV system size for building types listed in Table 140.10-A; the required solar PV size is the smaller of the two methods:
- Building type
- Climate zone of the building
- CFA of the building
For mixed use buildings that contain the building types listed in Table 140.10-A, the solar PV size should be determined for each building type, including its support areas, then added together for the entire mixed use building.
Support areas like corridors, restrooms, storage spaces, or other type of space associated with or secondary to the function of the building types in Table 140.10-A are included in the solar PV size calculation if they are conditioned and supporting the building type from Table 140.10-A.
The Solar Access Roof Area (SARA) is the area of all roofs of a building, covered parking, carports, and all newly constructed structures on the property, capable of supporting a solar PV system per Title 24, Part 2, Section 1511.9. SARA excludes roof areas:
- With less than 70 percent of annual solar access, accounting for shading from all obstructions
- Occupied as specified by California Building Code Section 503.1.4
- Unavailable due to compliance with other code requirements, if confirmed by the California Energy Commission Executive Director
All buildings required to have a solar PV system must also have a battery storage system unless they meet an exception. For more on requirements for battery storage, see the 2022 Nonresidential Battery Storage Systems Fact Sheet.
A building complies if the energy consumption calculated for the proposed design building is no greater than the energy budgets (Source, Efficiency, and Total) calculated for the standard design building, which are defined by the mandatory and prescriptive requirements. Increasing building energy efficiency can reduce the required solar PV system size.
Yes. Five exceptions can exclude nonresidential buildings from the solar PV requirements:
- SARA is < 3 percent of the CFA
- Minimum solar PV system size is < 4 kWdc
- SARA is < 80 contiguous square feet
- The enforcement authority determines the solar PV system cannot meet the American Society of Civil Engineers Standard 7-16, Chapter 7, Snow Loads requirements
- Multi-tenant buildings in areas where a load serving entity provides neither virtual net metering (VNEM) nor community solar
No. The required solar PV system can be installed on the building’s SARA, ground-mounted on the property, or mounted atop a carport installed on the lot. Note: an alternative to installing solar PV on-site is to comply with the community solar requirements when using the performance compliance approach if the CEC has approved a community solar program for the building type in the area where the building is located.
The solar-ready requirements are mandatory, but only apply to nonresidential buildings that do not require a solar PV system:
- Newly constructed nonresidential buildings up to three habitable stories, other than I-2 and I-2.1 occupancies shall comply with Section 110.10(b)-(d)
- Newly constructed hotel/motel occupancies with up to 10 habitable stories shall comply with Section 110.10(b)-(d)
- Additions where the total roof area is increased by at least 2,000 ft2