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Nonresidential Photovoltaic & Water Heating Ordinances

The City of Carlsbad’s Climate Action Plan seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the installation of commercial photovoltaic solar systems, solar water heaters and heat pump water heaters. In pursuit of the goals established by the Climate Action Plan, the city has adopted a nonresidential photovoltaic and water heating ordinance which requires that specified cost-effective renewable energy generation and water heating measures be included in nonresidential buildings.

Why did Carlsbad pass this ordinance?

Commercial and industrial properties account for about 32 percent of Carlsbad’s greenhouse gas emissions. In 2015, the city adopted its Climate Action Plan, which included goals to: 1) install solar water heaters or heat pump water heaters in all new commercial construction to support the goal of reducing community greenhouse gas emissions by 11,604 MTCO2e by 2035, and 2) promote installation of commercial and industrial photovoltaic systems to produce an additional 10.7 megawatts of electricity per year above projected amounts, or roughly 15 percent of projected commercial and industrial electricity use, by 2035. This ordinance supports these goals by requiring projects to implement specific photovoltaic capacities and water heating measures. The measures included in this ordinance have been proven to be cost-effective.

Who is required to comply with this ordinance?

Generally, builders of the following types of nonresidential projects need to include photovoltaic and non-gas water heating equipment in their projects:

Photovoltaic energy system 

Nonresidential construction projects that meet one of the following descriptions must comply with the photovoltaic system ordinance:

  • All new nonresidential construction projects.
  • Additions made to existing nonresidential construction where the total roof area is increased by at least 2,000 square feet. This threshold aligns with the California Energy Code (Title 24, Part 6) threshold for requiring solar zone.
  • Building alterations with a permit valuation of $1,000,000 or above, that affects 75 percent or more, of the existing building floor area.

Water heating

  • All new nonresidential construction projects must comply with the water heating ordinance.

What are the requirements of this ordinance?

Photovoltaic energy system

The photovoltaic ordinance requires all affected projects to install a photovoltaic system that meets one of the following minimum size requirements:

  • Install a photovoltaic system with a minimum of 15-kilowatt per 10,000 square feet of gross floor area. For buildings under 10,000 square feet, a minimum 5-kilowatt photovoltaic system must be installed
    or
  • Install a photovoltaic system that offsets 80 percent of the building’s electrical demand

Water heating

The nonresidential water heating provisions require all new nonresidential construction to install a water heating system that meets one of the following requirements:

  • Heat pump water heater(s), tankless electric resistance, or other form of electric water heating system(s) that meet Title 24 standards
    or
  • Solar water heating system that provides a 0.4 solar fraction and uses OG-100 certified collectors.

When does this ordinance take effect?

The ordinance was adopted by the City Council on March 12, 2019 and was forwarded to the California Energy Commission for their review and approval. Review by the California Energy Commission is necessary to ensure that local energy-related ordinances meet or exceed statewide standards and are cost-effective. 

California Energy Commission approval is anticipated by June or July of 2019. Building permit applications made after the ordinance takes effect will need to meet the new requirements.

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