Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States Power

San Francisco Adopts Law Requiring Solar Panels On All New Buildings (theguardian.com) 300

San Francisco will soon become one of the first major cities in the U.S. to require solar power on new buildings. The rule, which received approval from San Francisco's Board of Supervisors this week, is set to go into effect in January 2017. According to the legislation, all new buildings with 10 stories or fewer -- both residential and commercial -- will have to use either solar panels for electricity or a solar system to heat water. The Guardian notes that smaller Californian cities such as Lancaster and Sebastopol already have similar laws in place, but San Francisco is the first large city to adopt the new standard. "In a dense, urban environment, we need to be smart and efficient about how we maximize the use of our space to achieve goals such as promoting renewable energy and improving our environment," Supervisor Scott Wiener said in a statement. Vox has more details.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

San Francisco Adopts Law Requiring Solar Panels On All New Buildings

Comments Filter:
  • by Pseudonymous Powers ( 4097097 ) on Friday April 22, 2016 @02:43PM (#51966917)

    San Francisco Adopts Law Requiring Solar Panels On All New Buildings

    What about heat pollution? What if you wanted to build a nice roof garden instead?

    Why does absolutely everyone have to do exactly the same thing all the time?

    • by maligor ( 100107 )

      San Francisco Adopts Law Requiring Solar Panels On All New Buildings

      What about heat pollution? What if you wanted to build a nice roof garden instead?

      Why does absolutely everyone have to do exactly the same thing all the time?

      Put a bucket of water in the roof garden to heat water?

      • Put a solar panel up there and instead of turning the sunlight to heat, turn it to electricity. Or are you burning coal in there?

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 ) on Friday April 22, 2016 @02:55PM (#51967031)

      Roof garden is OK by the new law.
      Surprisingly they also let you keep water that falls from the sky.

      As for thermal pollution how can solar panels create more heat than the black shingle roof that was there before?

      • A lot of roofs in warmer climates are white not black and some are clay tile.

        I'm not sure if it is enough to think about but anything that electricity runs through generates heat due to resistance.

      • Surprisingly they also let you keep water that falls from the sky.

        Are you being cute, or is that a reference to certain localities that will actually fine you for not letting the water run off?

        • by afidel ( 530433 )

          It is illegal to capture rain water in Hawaii and Colorado, in Colorado it has to do with prior appropriation, there is currently a bill in their state legislature to make an exception to the capture laws to allow for limited rain barrel collection but it's currently stalled. California passed a similar law in 2012, prior to that it was illegal to capture rain water. The whole thing comes down to how water is considered property in the western US. In Hawaii it's due to the way the natives viewed water as sp

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      American buildings are extremely inefficient by international standards. The market seems to have failed to do anything about it, so intervention is required.

      Before complaining about it how about seeing what the law says. I don't know who competent your lawmakers are, but I'd hope roof gardens are catered for.

    • "What about heat pollution?"

      Heat Pollution? In San Francisco? Typical weather in much of the city is low overcast, 60F(16C) with wind and fog or even light drizzle. But how well will solar panels work under the near perpetual marine layer? Badly I should think. Won't that be a problem? Could be..

      But that's someone else's problem, not mine.

      • by rsborg ( 111459 )

        "What about heat pollution?"

        Heat Pollution? In San Francisco? Typical weather in much of the city is low overcast, 60F(16C) with wind and fog or even light drizzle. But how well will solar panels work under the near perpetual marine layer? Badly I should think. Won't that be a problem? Could be..

        But that's someone else's problem, not mine.

        Well, lets ask around on Google if it's a good idea [1]

        Sunny places are often also very hot, but solar panels (like other electronics) work best in cool weather. With an average annual temperature of 57 degrees, solar panels love San Francisco. Solar power output is actually higher in San Francisco than in Sacramento, even though Sacramento gets more sunshine, because of Sacramento’s heat.

        [1] https://pureenergies.com/us/ci... [pureenergies.com]

        • by serbanp ( 139486 )

          Can you provide a credible reference instead of a fact-free brochure posted by an entity partial to the subject?

    • I'm with you on this one. It would be beautiful to see cities with flat roof gardens.

      As far as the solar panel we could put them on the side of the house. Maybe even do some design to look good. And I'm not sure solar panels use the same light as plants. We could possibly develop transparent solar panels for an awning over the garden. This might let us have our cake and eat it too.

      My dream home: Below ground living quarters; two or three floors; ground level parking lot and then a workshop and storage floor

      • I think your dream home might work well in arid climates. In humid regions, I fear that mold would be a huge issue, Also, unless you build on a steep hillside with services available on a road below you, you are probably going to have to pump waste uphill to a sewer. What could possibly go wrong with that?

      • Putting them on the sides of buildings would be inefficient. Panels need to be pointed at the right azimuth (doubt the building will just happen to have a face at the right angle) and tilted upward. That's why nobody puts them on surfaces that are perpendicular to the ground. They do roof or ground mount. It's not by accident.

    • San Francisco Adopts Law Requiring Solar Panels On All New Buildings

      What about heat pollution?

      What a silly question.

      1. Solar panels don't increase local heat, they decrease it, relative to dark roofs or dirt. They convert energy that would turn into heat into electricity. In a building, that electricity is likely converted back into heat somewhere in the building... but that conversion of electricity to heat would happen anyway. Without the solar panels it would be derived from, say, heat created elsewhere by burning coal.

      2. Have you ever been to San Francisco? A little heat pollution would make

  • by Sowelu ( 713889 ) on Friday April 22, 2016 @02:46PM (#51966937)

    With the ridiculous land values, installing a system like this would only be a tiny fraction of the home value, at least.

    • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Friday April 22, 2016 @03:11PM (#51967165)
      It says something like 15% of applicable area, so if only 25% of your roof is solar capable, then you only need to cover about 4% of it. Its a way for the politicians to say they are doing something wonderful, without really doing much of anything.
      • That is not how I read it. I read it as saying that the new reg builds on the state's 15% solar capable requirement by saying now you have to put panels on ALL of that 15% solar capable. So in your example of a roof with 25% solar capable, you would be required to put panels on 15% of the roof (not 15% of the 25%).

    • Why do you hate poor people?

      For people that find it hard enough to pay the rent even a small cost like this could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. As pointed out in one of those articles from the summary the city would get greater carbon reductions and reduced housing costs if they only allowed for taller residential buildings in the city.

      Taller buildings are more efficient buildings. Taller buildings means more people per area, reducing costs and spreading the tax burden. People would be happi

      • by Darkelf ( 30761 )

        blah blah nuclear... we know already.

        the problem isn't the nuclear itself, it's all the side crap like the totally inefficient way the fuel is USED...

        thorium, on paper is a great idea, so is pebble bed. we should do that. we should build reactors that use the VAST MAJORITY of the fuel before it is designated waste and stored in a pool...

        fix the underlying technical issues, deal with the proliferation possibility. once we get past that a reactor is simple.

        that's why solar is a good idea NOW. even if w

      • by Higaran ( 835598 )
        If you're a poor family and you can barely pay rent, then you're not building a new house.
        • If you're a poor family and you can barely pay rent, then you're not building a new house.

          You're paying for this no matter what. If you're a renter in a new building, it goes into the rent. If you're a renter in an old building, the higher costs for new buildings drives up your rent too because people who can't afford the higher rents for the new buildings are now competing for your old building.

          • Solar _pays for itself_ in many many cases. (I personally have such low electricity bills, and have relatively low electricity rates, that it doesn't really make sense for me now.) The renter's electric bill would be lower.

  • by cyberchondriac ( 456626 ) on Friday April 22, 2016 @02:47PM (#51966961) Journal
    How will small businesses that are just making ends meet cope with this mandate? Are they (SFBS) granting subsidies of any kind?
    I also think it's strange that buildings over 10 floors are exempt. They'd seem to be the most ideal candidates.
    • by rlp ( 11898 )

      | "I also think it's strange that buildings over 10 floors are exempt"

      The buildings owned by the wealthy and (presumably) politically powerful are exempt from this mandate. Inexplicable!

    • San Francisco seems to be having a pretty major housing issue. What's the best fix? Make it more expensive to build things!

      • San Francisco seems to be having a pretty major housing issue. What's the best fix? Make it more expensive to build things!

        The cost of housing in San Francisco has absolutely no relationship to the cost of building a house in San Francisco. This is actually something that is of benefit to this initiative. The housing prices are so removed from reality that no one will notice an extra few thousand spent on a solar panel.

        • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

          The cost of housing in San Francisco has absolutely no relationship to the cost of building a house in San Francisco.

          The issue is there isn't enough housing. Adding to the cost of building homes doesn't incentivize building more homes. When you increase taxes on cigarettes do people buy more cigarettes?

          This is actually something that is of benefit to this initiative.

          What? What initiative? Affordable housing or bolting solar panels to everything?

          The housing prices are so removed from reality that no one will notice an extra few thousand spent on a solar panel.

          It's pretty far from a few thousand. A cheap system averages $25,000 to $30,000, without incentives, for a single house. It's not just the cost of the panels, it's the inverter and electrical hookups.

          I'm thinking more along the lines of apartmen

    • Probably not (Score:5, Informative)

      by stomv ( 80392 ) on Friday April 22, 2016 @03:04PM (#51967109) Homepage

      How will small businesses that are just making ends meet cope with this mandate?

      How do small businesses cope with mandates of elevators and wheelchair accessibility and sprinkler heads and exit signs and the thousands(!) of other code requirements?

      [Buildings over 10 floors] seem to be the most ideal candidates.

      Probably not. For one thing, tall buildings tend to be located near other tall buildings. Unlike low-rise buildings which are often approximately the same height, the height difference of skyscrapers can be 100s of feet. Shading becomes more of a challenge. But probably more importantly, the roof space of tall buildings is essentially too valuable -- it's needed for communication and mechanical units. Finally, skyscrapers make up a remarkably tiny percentage of roof space in San Francisco, so their inclusion or exclusion has a trivial impact on achieving the goals of the legislation.

    • Re:Expense? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Friday April 22, 2016 @03:08PM (#51967147)

      How will small businesses that are just making ends meet cope with this mandate?

      A small business that is "just making ends meet" can't afford to have a new building constructed. They would be leasing space or buying an existing property.

    • by Burz ( 138833 )

      Uh, they could contract it out to Solar City and get a discount on their electricity rate without having to buy anything.

    • The same way a lot of small businesses in California are dealing with the number of business unfriendly mandates like this, they pack up and move to Arizona or Texas.

      The population in California is growing but this is largely due to immigration, legal and otherwise. The people that have an education, speak fluent English, know a trade, and are generally employable and have employees, tend to leave for greener pastures in other states. The people left behind are not the same level of wage earners as those

      • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

        You're right. California is where great companies are born. Arizona and Texas is where they go to die.

      • by afidel ( 530433 )

        The people that have an education, speak fluent English, know a trade, and are generally employable and have employees, tend to leave for greener pastures in other states. The people left behind are not the same level of wage earners as those that leave.

        Yes, that must be why California's constant dollar per-person GDP [deptofnumbers.com] is going up faster than the national average. Oh, and California's percentage of wages going to worker is also growing faster than the national average so it must be all low skill workers that

    • by wjcofkc ( 964165 )
      If it is a small business just making ends meet, I doubt they will be constructing a new building.
    • by afidel ( 530433 )

      I also think it's strange that buildings over 10 floors are exempt. They'd seem to be the most ideal candidates.

      No, the ratio of roof area to occupied area is a tiny fraction that of a single family house, in addition the roof area of those building are almost always dedicated to mechanical plants (HVAC, elevator motors, etc).

  • by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Friday April 22, 2016 @02:49PM (#51966985)

    Not all locations are conducive to solar energy. Some properties are in shadows most of the day due to topography and surrounding terrain. Some properties face the wrong way so sun only hits directly half the day.

    How many of these systems will be installed and never maintained? How many of these systems will just be shut off?

    There will be many systems that will never recoup their costs installed under this new regulation.

    • Some properties are in shadows most of the day due to topography and surrounding terrain.

      Sorry but no. There's no mount doom in San Francisco. You'd have to be building in a cave to not be able to generate power due to topography in cities that are so close to the tropic of cancer. This isn't Finland where the sun skirts the horizon.

      Some properties face the wrong way so sun only hits directly half the day.

      You're talking about one hell of a sunny and cloud free city. People in north Germany have no problem paying back their solar panels even when they are pointed in non-ideal directions, and they'd give anything to have half of SF's sun pointing on their roofs.

      How many of these systems will be installed and never maintained?

      Maintai

    • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Friday April 22, 2016 @04:55PM (#51967845)
      If you read the actual bill, there are an enormity of exceptions that cover most of what you have said and beyond. As far as maintenance, that might be a good point. I may have missed something but I did not see anything in there that took this on. I wait to stand correction on that.
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday April 22, 2016 @02:50PM (#51966999) Journal

    I hope those SJWs in San Francisco realize that all those solar panels will contribute to the Sun burning out sooner. There's already not enough sunlight to go around. Just ask Greenland.

  • by Tenebrousedge ( 1226584 ) <.tenebrousedge. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday April 22, 2016 @02:58PM (#51967053)

    Since when does San Francisco allow people to put up new buildings?

    I thought they just put up as many barriers to build things as they could. Hey, wait a sec...!

    • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      It's sort of like Vermont banning fracking. There aren't any economically recoverable gas/oil deposits in Vermont, but they banned it anyway.

      Trying to build a new building in SF is next to impossible, but by god if anyone tries it they'll put solar panels on the roof!

      Collective virtue signaling.

  • Half-way There! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CrashNBrn ( 1143981 ) on Friday April 22, 2016 @03:00PM (#51967075)
    Now, if they could only adopt a law to actually allow the construction of NEW buildings.
  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Friday April 22, 2016 @03:20PM (#51967213)

    OK so which SF politicians just coincidentally also own a solar panel company?

  • I've seen a number of studies that tackle the limits of solar power from a number of angles, these include technical and economic.

    A technical problem with solar power is that peak output is at noon but peak load is near sunset. Temperatures typically reach a maximum at about 4:00. People tend to go home to cook supper at about 5:00. Along with a few other factors that add to the electric load the viability of solar power peaks at about 30% of total production. Anything more and additional solar power ca

    • by sjames ( 1099 )
      If there is too much solar power then the price at solar production peaks can make the price go negative.

      OMG, NO! Not cheap electricity! Anything but that! OH THE HUMANITY!

      If it's cheaper to pay people to use it than it is to throttle production, so be it! It's not a bad problem to have if you're a consumer. Not that any consumer will ever be paid to use electricity, that will be absorbed at the distributor level.

      Meanwhile, I can set the dishwasher and dryer to run during that cheap peak production. It mi

    • by linuxguy ( 98493 )
      > A technical problem with solar power is that peak output is at noon but peak load is near sunset. Temperatures typically reach a maximum at about 4:00. People tend to go home to cook supper at about 5:00. Along with a few other factors that add to the electric load the viability of solar power peaks at about 30% of total production. Anything more and additional solar power can negatively affect the grid.

      You present a few moronic arguments, like the one above. If the grid sees too much capacity b
      • by serbanp ( 139486 )

        Apparently you seem to know very little about how the grid works. Except hydro power, of which California has little, none of the baseload-producing methods can be throttled fast enough to compensate for peaks and troughs of the solar power.

        Everything is easy when you don't have the understanding.

  • I'm all for this. On cloudy days, we can both provide extra sunlight, reduce the nuclear weapons stockpiles, generate rooftop solar power, aaaand launch kilotons of hardy payload to the stars.

  • ...and not for any kind of reasons of profitability. There are severe infrastructure hurdles to overcome with any kind of off-site power generation, and SF has just declared that they are going to do all in their power to exacerbate them.

    First, let's forget about how utilities generally have to pay you for what you generate that winds its way back to their network, although production at this scale can certainly become significant to a utilities bottom line (which means increasing prices per kWh for the res

  • It should be required that all new buildings below 6 stories to have enough on-site AE electricity to equal the energy usage of the HVAC. In doing this, it will lead to using geo-thermal HVAC, along with aerogel based windows, as opposed to triple pane that are expensive and not as good.
  • Have we reached energy parity with PV solar panels yet? ie. does the amount of useful electrical energy generated over the life of the panel exceed the amount of energy required to manufacture it? It certainly wasn't a few years ago when I last looked.

    Also have they sorted out the massive pollution that arises as from the PV panel manufacturing process?

    I'd like to know, as I am considering installing a few but there's no point if they still do more harm than good.

  • I am required to put panels on my roof. Do they need to be plugged in or can they just be roof ornaments?

    If they have to be plugged in, then I need an inverter. Does it need to work?

    If so, can I undersize the inverter or does it need to be the right size to handle the full generation of my panels?

    If the latter, suppose I need two inverters and eventually one burns out. Do I need to replace it?

    If so, what kind of monitoring do I need to detect when the inverter goes bad?

    How long do I have to replace a broken

  • As soon they find it to be sexist somehow.

Unix is a Registered Bell of AT&T Trademark Laboratories. -- Donn Seeley

Working...