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Santa Monica Requires Buildings to Install Solar Panels

Aug. 25, 2016

Ordinance features stricter rules to combat climate change.

Solar panels are now mandatory in Santa Monica, CA, for new buildings or remodeling projects where at least 50% of the exterior wall elements are removed.

It is just the fifth city in California to enact a solar system mandate, following in line behind San Francisco, Lancaster, Sebastopol and Culver City.

In comparison, Santa Monica’s regulations are stricter. Santa Monica requires multifamily dwellings and non-residential buildings to participate, whereas mandatory solar panels in other cities are required only for residential buildings. The minimum total wattage must be two times the square footage of the building. For example, a two-story building with 5,000 square feet would need a 10-kilowatt system. Exceptions may be made for buildings that lack exposure to direct sunlight.  

The council passed the ordinance in an effort to combat climate change and invest in a solar market that has fallen in cost.

“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,” says Santa Monica Mayor Tony Vazquez.

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