Policy Brief on Proposed City Council Green Building Legislation

At the end of 2010, the City Council put forward a number of legislative items that were related to green building construction. CHPC put together a summary of these numerous bills to inform our green building committee:

  • The Building Code will be amended so that rooftop structures, including greenhouses, will not be included in the height of the building, or considered an additional story, unless the aggregate area of the structure exceeds a third of the area of the roof (INT-0338);
  • Solar thermal and solar electric (photovoltaic) collectors and/or panels and their supporting equipment will now be considered rooftop structures BUT will not be subject to the rules requiring rooftop structures that cover more than a third of the area of the roof to be included in the height of the building or considered an additional story (INT-0341);
  • The Building Code will be amended so that alternative or distributed energy equipment, including photovoltaic and solar thermal collectors, wind turbines, and micro-turbines, and their enclosures will be treated as permitted obstructions (INT-0358);
  • The Department of Buildings will develop a rule to give detailed criteria on the anchorage of solar photovoltaic and solar thermal panels to roofs and other sustainable energy systems (INT-0342);
  • The Department of Buildings will develop detailed criteria on the anchorage of solar photovoltaic panels and solar thermal panels on exterior walls of buildings and structures. Ground mounted systems for solar photovoltaic and solar thermal installations will be added to the definition of structure, and a new classification of work permit will allow for the installation of solar energy systems (INT-0346);
  • City-owned buildings will be required to install solar photovoltaic panel systems where it is found to be cost-efficient, following feasibility studies (INT-0349);
  • City-owned buildings will be required to install solar hot water heating systems where it is found to be cost-efficient, following feasibility studies. A solar hot water pilot program will also be initiated to test the success of solar hot water systems on non-municipal buildings with the intent of initiating a future city-wide program if successful (INT-0351);
  • The Building Code will be amended so that no fee will be required for an application for a street crane permit to install a solar energy system on a roof (INT-0352);
  • The City will create a “Solar Map” that will identify the estimated energy savings and carbon dioxide emissions reductions from installed solar energy systems, so that residents and businesses can pursue the best solar solution for them (INT-0353);
  • Sun control devices over windows and doors will be allowed to extend to at most 5 feet beyond the street line provided they are at least 8 feet off the ground. Sun control devices were previously allowed to extend only 10 inches beyond the street line (INT-0340);
  • The Building Code will be amended to require cool roof coating standards as aligned with LEED. At least 75 percent of the area of roofs and setbacks, exclusive of skylights, shall have a covering with a minimum solar reflectance index of 78 for low-sloped roofs and 29 for steep-sloped roofs (with some exemptions) (INT-0347);
  • The Department of Buildings will develop criteria for the installation of vegetated green roofs (INT-0348);
  • The Department of Buildings will now accept wind turbine assemblies certified by NYSERDA, the California Energy Commission, and/or a number of other national and international standards approved by the commissioner, without needing to be independently tested or approved by the Innovation Review Board in order to be authorized for installation (INT-0350).

We testified in support of a number of these initiatives, and put forward some recommendations to amend others.

Download our full letter of testimony here

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