Skip to code content (skip section selection)
(a) Purpose. State law requires that certain new residential and nonresidential buildings set aside a “solar ready” portion of the roof equal to 15% of the total roof area. The solar ready area must be unshaded and free of obstructions, to allow that portion of the roof to be used for future installation of solar energy or heating systems. The San Francisco Green Building Code requires a building owner to actually use the solar ready area of the roof for solar energy or heating systems. The purpose of this Section 149 is to allow the use of “living roofs” as an additional means of meeting some or all of the Better Roof requirements of the Green Building Code, and thereby further promote the use of rooftops to increase renewable energy resources, stormwater management, and biodiversity.
(b) Definitions. As used in this Section 149, the following capitalized terms shall have the following meanings:
Better Roof Requirements. The requirements of San Francisco Green Building Code Sections 4.201.2 and .1.2, as amended.
Living Roof. The media for growing plants, as well as the set of related components installed exterior to a facility’s roofing membrane. “Living Roof” includes both “roof gardens” and “landscaped roofs” as referenced in the California Building Code.
Living Roof Area. The area of media for growing plants installed for the purposes of compliance with this Section, consistent with standards prepared and maintained by the Planning Department for planning, installation, and maintenance of Living Roofs.
Minimum Better Roof Area. An equivalent area to the Solar Ready Zone, as calculated under CCR Title 24, Part 6, Section 110.10 and San Francisco Green Building Code Sections 4.201.2 and .1.2, as applicable.
Roof. All outside coverings of a building or structure, including the structural supports, decking, and top layer exposed to the outside, at all levels of building, excluding roof area designated for skylights, vehicle traffic, or heliport.
Solar Ready Zone. A section of the roof designated and reserved for the installation of a solar electric or solar thermal system as required in certain new buildings by CCR Title 24, Part 6, Section 110.10(b) through (e) and San Francisco Green Building Code Sections 4.201.2 and .1.2, as applicable.
(c) Applicability. A project sponsor may use a Living Roof as an alternative means of meeting some or all of the Better Roof requirements for any building that meets all four of the following criteria:
(2) The building has a gross floor area of 2,000 square feet or more;
(3) The building has 10 or fewer occupied floors; and
(4) The project sponsor applies for a site permit or building permit on or after January 1, 2017.
(d) Living Roof Requirements. Should a project sponsor use a Living Roof as a means of meeting some or all of the Better Roof requirements, the sponsor shall submit to the Planning Department for its review and approval a Living Roof design in which the sum of the areas of the following features is equal to or greater than the Minimum Better Roof Area:
(1) Area of all solar photovoltaic collectors that meet the performance criteria of the San Francisco Green Building Code (secs. 4.201.2(c)(1) and .1.2(b)(1)), as appropriate;
(2) Area of all solar thermal collectors that meet the performance criteria of the San Francisco Green Building Code (secs. 4.201.2(c)(2) and .1.2(b)(2)), as appropriate; and
(3) Area and Location of Living Roof.
(A) For the purpose of this Section 149, each square foot of Living Roof shall count as 0.5 square foot towards the Minimum Better Roof Area requirements; provided, however, that the actual square footage of the Living Roof shall be used to determine compliance with the Stormwater Management Ordinance. The Planning Department, after consulting with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the Department of the Environment, shall adopt rules and regulations to implement these provisions and coordinate compliance with the Stormwater Management Ordinance.
(B) A Living Roof may be located within or outside of the Solar Ready Zone used for compliance with CCR Title 24, Part 6, Section 110.10. Where a Living Roof Area is located outside the Solar Ready Zone, the requirements of Section 110.10 for the solar zone shall otherwise still apply.
(e) Waiver. If the project sponsor demonstrates to the Zoning Administrator’s satisfaction that it is physically infeasible to meet the Living Roof requirements as written for the project in question, the Zoning Administrator may, in his or her sole discretion and pursuant to the procedures set forth in Planning Code Section 307(h), grant partial relief from the requirements stated in subsection (d) where the design of the Better Roof is within 10% of any quantitative requirements. The requirements of CCR Title 24, Part 6, Section 110.10 for the solar zone shall remain applicable.
Division (e) amended; Ord. 202-18, Eff. 9/10/2018.