There are many ways to go solar, and they all haven’t yet been tried — people are continually coming up with new ideas. But there are now some options that are so good that cities are beginning to mandate solar power with all new homes. The latest such city (of which we know) is Sebastopol, California. But Sebastopol has taken it a step further.
As did the Californian city of Lancaster, Sebastopol, city in Western Sonoma County, California, has approved an ordinance that now mandates that new homes be constructed with solar panels. Unlike Lancaster, however, Sebastopol mandated it for new commercial buildings as well.
In the words of the ordinance itself: “All new residential and commercial buildings, and residential additions, remodels, and alterations that exceed seventy five percent of the structure will be required to install a solar photovoltaic system at the time of construction. The Council may establish an in lieu fee for projects that cannot achieve full compliance.”
The power consumption of commercial buildings is just as important as that of homes, and sometimes far more important. Commercial buildings often use many times more power than houses, as some of them are factories or office buildings in which there are tens or hundreds of computers, many air conditioners, and all kinds of other electricity-needy machines. Many of these machines run all day and even throughout the night. So, this is a pretty big step forward from Lancaster’s mandate. If Lancaster is to really become the “solar energy capital of the world,” as Republican Mayor Rex Parris has envisioned, it looks like it might need to step up its mandate.