The sunshine state of California has historically been one of the most progressive states in the environmental arena – and especially when it comes to solar energy. According to the website, www.EnvironmentCalifornia.org, California is a world solar energy leader, thanks to the Million Solar Roofs Initiative spearheaded by Environment California.
The state of California has also passed a law that requires that all new buildings devote 15 percent of their roof space to be available for solar panels – what the law calls “solar ready”.
But now, in a historic step, the city of San Francisco is requiring that all new buildings not just be ready for solar panels, but have them installed on the roof. Scott Weiner, the city supervisor who introduced the bill, states that San Francisco is the first major city to have such a requirement.
The ordinance was passed unanimously by the city’s Board of Supervisors. While requiring that buildings would need to have either electricity generating or solar heating panels, the ordinance for Weiner, is the first of many steps to meet the overall goal of having San Francisco become 100 percent powered by renewable energy.
Weiner is not the only person to recognize just why solar energy is so important for San Francisco. The legislation itself notes that as a coastal city, San Francisco is vulnerable to sea level rise, a problem which has already plagued the coastline causing significant erosion during high tides.
While some say that due to San Francisco’s already restrictive building laws which lead to limited new construction, the law – which goes into effect in 2017 – doesn’t go far enough, two of San Francisco’s former environment commissioners, and many other solar advocates, see it as an important, and significant step in the right direction.
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