Solar Ready Buildings

A solar ready building is designed to accommodate a solar installation, even if the solar installation does not occur at the time of construction. A building which is not designed to accommodate solar may require renovations should the building owner want to install a solar system later in the building's lifespan. Solar ready buildings allow owners to take advantage of a changing energy market, giving them flexibility should they want to invest in clean energy at a later date.

Solar ready design features, if considered early in the design process, are typically low or no cost. In the planning stages of a solar ready building, designers and builders should consider how the building orientation, available roof space, and roof material will affect future solar energy systems. Wiring and plumbing should be ready to accommodate solar photovoltaic and solar hot water systems. All of this serves to lower the cost of a future installation by making the it faster and easier. This eliminates barriers to future solar applications and facilitates market growth. The Solar Ready Buildings Planning Guide [PDF], published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2009, details the technical processes for making buildings solar ready.

There are many certifications that are available to recognize buildings that are designed to minimize impact by using resources sustainably.  Most green building certifications require energy-efficient construction to reduce energy waste, and some also require solar-ready building design or the use of renewable resources.

More Resources:

The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Certification is a third party certification program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED Certifications are available for buildings of all types and sizes.  LEED Certification is available at four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. 

Solar specifications: LEED certified buildings receve points for utilizing on-site renewable energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy's DOE Challenge Home program recognizes builders for their leadership in increasing energy efficiency, improving indoor air quality, and making homes zero net-energy ready. 

Solar specifications: In Utah, DOE Challenge Homes must meet requirements to accomodate the future installation of both solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems.

The EA Net Zero certification is designed to recognize homes that generate as much electricity as they use over the course of a year. The EA Net Zero Ready certification is for homes that are built to be “ready” for actual physical renewable systems to be built at a later date.

Solar specifications: EA Net Zero homes must generate 100% of the buildings annual energy needs from renewables; EA Net Zero Ready homes must have proper roof orientation, roof pitch, and roof area as well as EPA solar-ready compliance.

The National Association of Home Builders and the ICC partnered to establish the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard, a residential green building rating system.

Solar specifications: National Green Building certified buildings receve points for utilizing renewable energy.

The International Living Future Institute's Living Building Challenge is a green building certification program that scores buildings on seven performance areas: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty. 

Solar specifications: Living Building Challenge certified buildings must produce 100% of the buildings net energy needs from renewables on an annual basis.

Guides to help commercial buildings exceed the energy code by 30% or 50%, moving the building toward net zero.

Solar specifications: Living Building Challenge certified buildings must produce 100% of the buildings net energy needs from renewables on an annual basis.





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