California’s New Solar and Storage Requirements for Commercial Buildings

A business owner or developer constructing a new commercial building in California must know the latest solar and storage requirements.

New Rules for 2023

As of January 1, 2023, California has implemented a requirement for all newly constructed commercial buildings to have solar and battery storage systems. This new rule is part of the state’s ambitious goal of achieving 100% carbon neutrality by 2045.

The new requirements apply to the following types of commercial buildings:

  • Auditoriums
  • Clinics
  • Convention centers
  • Financial institutions
  • Grocery stores
  • High-rise multifamily buildings (four stories and above)
  • Hotels and motels
  • Libraries
  • Medical office buildings
  • Office buildings
  • Restaurants
  • Retail centers
  • Schools
  • Theaters
  • Unleased tenant space
  • Warehouses

The size of the required solar and battery storage systems will vary depending on the climate zone, size, and type of building. However, all installations must meet the specific minimum requirements outlined below.

Solar Systems

Photovoltaic (PV) systems are required to meet approximately 60% of the buildings’ electricity loads based on the conditioned floor area, climate zone, and type of building.

Building owners can also size PV systems using the Solar Access Roof Area (SARA) formula. This calculation multiplies the total square footage available on the roof by 14 watts per square foot.

Owners can take both calculations and use the smallest of the two for building permits.

large solar field with multiple arrays on an orange background

Battery Storage Systems

For battery storage systems, the minimum requirement depends on the solar system’s size and a coefficient determined by your applicable CA climate zone. However, the following specifications must be met:

  • The size of the battery storage system should reduce electricity exports to 10% of the total solar generation.
  • The batteries must be able to hold at least 5 kilowatt-hours of electricity.
  • They must be able to store and release electricity with an efficiency of at least 80%.
  • After 10 years, or after being used 4,000 times, the batteries must still be able to hold at least 70% of their original capacity.

In other words, the batteries must be able to store a lot of electricity and they must be able to do it efficiently. They must also be able to last for a long time.

There are a few exceptions to the solar and battery storage requirements. For example, buildings with less than 3% SARA or a solar system sized less than four kilowatts.

EV Chargers

Under the new rules, parking lots with more than 25 spaces must have EV chargers installed. And for parking lots with 200 spots or more, roughly 25% of the parking spots must have EV chargers installed.

Benefits of Solar and Battery Storage

There are many benefits to installing solar and battery storage systems in commercial buildings. 

large industrial room with banks of batteries for energy storage

These systems can help to:

Contact Central Coast Solar Brokers

Central Coast Solar Brokers specializes in solar and battery storage solutions. We can help you size, design, and install a solar and battery storage system that meets California’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards.

Contact us today to learn how we can help make your new or existing commercial building compliant and sustainable.

Have Questions? Give Us a Call Today!

(805) 668-4420

Central Coast Solar Brokers provides expert advice and solutions for your solar project.