A solar ready ordinance is intended to make installation of solar generating equipment easier on a building should in the future the owner decide to install a solar energy system. Most cities who have adopted solar ready regulations require buildings constructed after adoption of the ordinance to first analyze the potential solar energy generating potential of the building roof. If the roof area meets the prescribed standards for solar generating potential and the roof area is available (could be used as a green roof or could have significant area devoted to mechanical uses) then the ordinance requires the building to incorporate chases that could be used in the future to house conduit/conductors from the roof mounted solar panels to the breaker panel. Generally no structural additions are needed to provide chases as chases are necessary to serve other mechanical equipment. In addition the architectural plans shall reflect that the roof of the building is designed to accommodate the load of a future solar installations. Generally no additional structural support need be incorporated to the roof design in order to support solar systems.
The attached "solar ready" ordinance is based upon language adopted by St. Louis. Staff has incorporated the "solar ready" elements into the City's existing solar installation section of our Code. The restrictions related to how far a solar panel may stand off from or project above the roof has been reviewed by solar installers and should provide room for standard solar installations on pitched and flat roofs. The intent was to keep the installations either screened by parapet walls or low profile so that the installations are not projections but rather streamlined attachments to the roof plane. A skirting or flashing would not be required between the panel and the roof.
The example reflects "solar ready" being applied to only new structures. It would not apply to renovations to existing structures or to additions. It would be applicable to new construction of all types (commercial, industrial and residential).
The exceptions language and standards for determining if a building is suitable for solar is directly from the St. Louis ordinance. This language is intended to avoid employing solar ready design on buildings that are not solar energy generating candidates. Lack of access to sufficient sunlight or lack of roof availability for solar panels are the principal reasons for being exempt.
As a point of clarification, carports and detached garages are considered "buildings" and would be subject to the solar ready requirements.