CA Permits by ToddCostello


									       guide                    to getting permits for
                                             Solar Thermal Hot Water Installations

                            In hot water?
                            Did you know, space and water heating are responsible for approximately 75%
                            of all greenhouse gas emissions. Solar thermal hot water is the most cost-

                            effective and environmentally friendly solar energy technology. Solar thermal can
                            supply most of your hot water needs and can even be used to heat your home.
                            Increasing the amount of clean renewable energy is a critical component of the
                            Berkeley community efforts to reduce green house gases. The City of Berkeley
                            encourages the installation of renewable energy systems by providing affordable
                            solar thermal permit fees.

                            Types of solar thermal hot water systems
                            Solar water heating systems use relatively simple technology, including a
                            storage tank and a solar collector. There are two types of solar water heating
                            systems: active, which have forced circulating pumps and controls, and passive
                            which do not. Additionally, you can choose between indirect or direct circulating systems for active solar
                            thermal systems. Nearly all solar water heating systems require a back-up system for cloudy days and times of
                            increased demand.

                            Energy Efficiency First
                            The first step in any solar thermal installation is to implement conservation measures to reduce energy and
                            water use by fixing leaks, installing low-flow fixtures and purchasing energy efficient appliances. Conservation
                            reduces expenses, greenhouse gas emissions, saves water and minimizes the size of your thermal system.
                            For energy savings tips check the PG&E website at

                            Resources & Incentives for Solar Thermal Hot Water
                            • US Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy- Information on energy efficiency,
                                 system cost, installation & maintenance (navigate to solar water heaters under the
                                 program index)
                            •    Federal Tax Break- You can receive up to $2,000 in a federal tax credit see website:
                            •    Database of State Incentives for Renewable & Efficiency– Information on state, local and federal
                                 incentives that promote renewable energy
                            What Permits are Required by the City of Berkeley to Install Solar Thermal?
                            ZONING PERMITS
                                     Solar thermal projects do not require zoning permits or design review (California State Code, Section
                                     65850.5). The Planning Department offers free non-binding design review evaluation of solar
  A program of the                   equipment installations.
   City of Berkeley                  For all building projects requiring Design Review, Planning Department staff will need sufficient
Green Building Initiative            information about the solar thermal installation to evaluate the proposed building design.
         2009                        Note: Design Review is generally required in the following Zoning Districts: Manufacturing,
                                     Commercial, and some projects in R-4 Districts. Check the Planning website to determine the Zoning
                                     District of your property and the applicability of Design Review requirements.

                            BUILDING & RELATED PERMITS
                                     Plumbing permits and possibly electrical permits are required for all solar thermal hot water
                                     installations. If structural work is needed to support the system, a building permit will be needed as

                                     Planning Department Website:
           Solar Thermal Hot Water Permit Guide
Building & Related Permits Continued
(building, plumbing and electrical may be required)
                                                                                                  Permit Service Center
All permit applications are available on the Planning website and at the Permit             2120 Milvia Street, Berkeley CA 94704
Service Center. Plumbing, electrical permit and building application submittals                     Phone: 510-981-7500
can be mailed or dropped off at the Permit Service Center.                                    Hours: M,T,Th,F 8-5pm, W 10-5pm
                                                                                              (financial transactions end at 4pm;
Submittal Requirements                                                                            check website for closures)
For a complete list of requirements please refer to the Solar Thermal Hot Water
Checklist (available in the Planning section of the Online Service Center at or in per-
son, at the Permit Service Center). Submit four sets of plans, minimum 11” x 17”, that include location of equipment, wiring
diagram, framing plan of rafters and equipment specification sheets.
•   Structural plans may be required for reinforcing the roof rafters to carry the additional load. For example, if you have
    an older building, and the rafters are 2 x 4’s and 32” apart, you will need reinforcement. If you have a truss roof with
    tile and want to add additional load, you will need to consult an engineer.

•   Fire Department requires that panels be installed at least 18” down from the ridge of the roof on both sides for one
    and two unit family dwellings. Fire Department approval is required for commercial and multifamily buildings to ensure
    site-specific access for fire personnel. For more information, please contact the City of Berkley Fire Department at
                                                          PERMIT FEES:
Residential Single Family and Duplex Solar Thermal                  Commercial and Multi-Family (3 or more units) Solar
Plumbing Permit Fees                                                Thermal Plumbing Permit Fees
Are $119.70 per installation (minimum plumbing permit               Are $119.70 per installations (minimum plumbing permit
fee).                                                               fee). Commercial & multi-family solar thermal plumbing plan
                                                                    check fees are based on an hourly fee of $152 per hour.

Electrical Permit Fees An electrical permit fee may be required depending on the system. If needed, the fee will be a
minimum electrical permit fee (currently $119.70 ) plus a per unit fee for electrical devices installed.

Building Permit Fees: If a building permit is needed to the roof assembly to support the solar thermal system, building
permit and plan check fees will be based on the valuation of the structure.

Why Install Solar Thermal?
                                                                                   Berkeley Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Residential natural gas is the largest source of greenhouse gas                              by Source (2005)
emissions from buildings. In November 2006 Berkeley voters over-
whelmingly approved ballot Measure G to reduce the community’s
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% by the year 2050. The                                                            Transportation
chart, illustrates these emissions by source. By choosing solar ther-      Natural Gas
mal hot water, you are helping to green your energy consumption               36%

and lower natural gas GHG emissions as part of the Climate Action
Plan. To further reduce GHG emissions, consider decreasing your                                          Electricity
energy consumption by conducting a home performance test and by                                             18%
installing solar electric PV panels. To learn more, please visit

           Planning Department Website:
                                                                                                                       Revised 8/09

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