General Information

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:

  • Grocery
  • High-Rise multifamily
  • Office, financial institutions, unleased tenant space
  • Retail
  • School
  • Warehouse
  • Auditorium, convention center, hotel/motel, library, medical office building/clinic, restaurant, theater

These requirements do not apply to:

  • Additions
  • Alterations
  • 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.

Prescriptive Compliance
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:

1. Total of all available Solar Access Roof Area (SARA) multiplied by 14 W/ft²
2.A calculation (Equation 140.10-A), based on three factors:

  • 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.

Performance Compliance
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:

  1. SARA is < 3 percent of the CFA
  2. Minimum solar PV system size is < 4 kWdc
  3. SARA is < 80 contiguous square feet
  4. The enforcement authority determines the solar PV system cannot meet the American Society of Civil Engineers Standard 7-16, Chapter 7, Snow Loads requirements
  5. 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

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. The California Energy Commission has posted a regulatory advisory to clarify requirements in the 2022 Energy Code for the solar access roof area (SARA) calculations. When there is another part of the California Building Code that requires roof area to be left clear, those areas do not need to be included in SARA. See the SARA regulatory advisory for more information.

Yes. First time tenant improvements (TI) for individual spaces where the building space has never been used or occupied for any purpose meets the definition of a newly constructed building per the Energy Code § 100.1 - PDF. The 2022 Energy Code requirements apply to permit applications for first time TIs for each space in a building that are submitted on or after January 1, 2023. All newly constructed building types specified in Table 140.10-A - PDF must meet the applicable solar PV and energy storage system requirements of § 140.10 - PDF of the 2022 Energy Code. Some exceptions may apply. The building space occupancy status is determined by the local enforcement agency.

Yes. Unleased tenant spaces in newly constructed multi-tenant buildings must comply with the solar PV and battery storage requirements per the capacity factors in Table 140.10-A and Table 140.10-B - PDF. A mixed occupancy building where at least 80 percent of the floor area is one or more of the specified types must comply. If the building includes more than one of the space types listed in Table 140.10-A - PDF, the total solar PV system required is the combined capacities determined for each type. Some exceptions may apply.

No. A tenant improvement in an existing building tenant space that was previously occupied would be considered an alteration. Alterations need to comply with the applicable requirements in § 141.0(b) - PDF depending on the scope of work. An alteration is any change to a component that is regulated by the Energy Code, including water-heating system, ventilation system, space-conditioning system, indoor, outdoor, and sign lighting, electrical power distribution system, envelope, and any covered process. For alterations that change the occupancy classification of the tenant space, the requirements per § 141.0 apply to the new occupancy type.

No. Unconditioned floor area is considered part of the 80 percent trigger for spaces listed in Table 140.10-A for the nonresidential solar PV requirements. However, only the conditioned floor area of the spaces listed in Table 140.10-A - PDF are considered when calculating the required solar PV system size per Equation 140.10-A. SARA must also be calculated and multiplied by 14 Watts per square foot. The smaller of the two calculations determines the solar PV system size, or required solar PV as calculated using approved software in the performance approach. Some exceptions may apply.

No. The prescriptive requirements for solar PV and energy storage systems apply to conditioned warehouses depending on climate zone.

No. The prescriptive requirements for solar PV and energy storage systems apply to newly constructed buildings.

Yes. Per Section 110.10(a) - PDF, solar-ready is required since there is only 1 habitable story in the 12-story building.

No. Exception 5 to § 110.10(b)1B - PDF applies to areas that are designed and approved for vehicular traffic and parking exempting the garage parking areas. The required solar-ready access area should be no less than 15 percent of the total roof area of the small office at the lower habitable floor.

See the Blueprint for more information, including articles and frequently asked solar PV questions, about the 2022 Energy Code.


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