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New Law Requires Solar on NYC Buildings

You may have heard about New York City’s new Climate Mobilization Act, but did you know that it includes a requirement to install solar on many NYC buildings?

In April 2019, the New York City Council passed the Climate Mobilization Act: a series of local laws that will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from New York City’s buildings, which are responsible for 67% of the City’s carbon footprint. The law that received the most attention was Introduction 1253-C, which will establish limits on carbon emissions for buildings greater than 25,000 square feet, driving these large buildings to reduce energy consumption or purchase carbon offset to avoid hefty fines starting in 2024. The bill’s final details were hotly contested by the real estate industry, making for a political showdown that received significant media attention. Meanwhile, the City Council also passed a solar (or green roof) mandate which flew under the radar but goes into effect this year and covers even more buildings! 

Solar Mandate Summary

In April 2019, City Council passed two bills to amend the City’s Building Code in order to require the installation of solar electric systems and/or the installation of green roofs on new construction as well as buildings undergoing substantial renovation/roof replacement. The first bill, Introduction 1032-A, directs the Department of Buildings to modify section 1511 of the Building Code to require “Sustainable roofing zones”, contiguous roof areas greater than 200 square feet, to be populated with solar electric systems and/or green roofs. The second bill, Introduction 276-A, expands the number of impacted buildings by clarifying that residential buildings less than five stories which have 100 square feet of contiguous roof area are also subject to the requirement. The second bill also creates the option to delay the mandate for affordable housing by five years and directs the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to study the financial feasibility of integrating solar into the City’s affordable housing stock.

The Upshot

  • Solar and/or green roofs will be required for the vast majority of new construction starting in November 2019. Affordable housing may get a five-year grace period.
  • Solar and/or green roofs will be required for substantial renovation projects that involve modifications to the roof structure starting in November 2019.
  • We’re going to see a lot more rooftop solar in the City!

Are you interested in solar for your building? Contact Solar One for a free analysis and consultation!

NYC Solar Mandate Fact Sheet

Solar Mandate Legislation: Introduction 1032-A and Introduction 276-A
Solar Mandate Effective Date: November 13, 2019 for all buildings except affordable housing, which may receive a grace period or alternative compliance option as determined by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The Department of Buildings will publish detailed rules in November 2019.
Impacted Buildings: any building that has at least 200 square feet of contiguous roof area and can support at least 4 kilowatts of solar capacity, as determined by the Department of Buildings. If a building is less than 5 stories, it only needs to have 100 feet of contiguous roof area to be covered by the mandate (that’s right, rowhomes are covered!).
Exceptions: affordable housing properties may have an alternative compliance option until 2024. Buildings that are already utilizing their roof for HVAC equipment and/or roof decks are excepted along with buildings for which solar and/or a green roof is determined to be infeasible by the Department of Buildings.
Trigger for Compliance: building permit application for new construction or substantial renovation.
Enforcement Agency: New York City Department of Buildings


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