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Consumer demand for solar-friendly and solar-ready homes is on the rise. To meet this demand, builders and architects across the country are designing homes and buildings with optimal orientation for solar, and roofs that allow for more energy production. But sometimes there are stumbling blocks along the way to “going solar.”

Below are some ways to make the solar design, integration, and storage process more streamlined for builders and the jurisdictions in which you build.

New Technology
Solar-plus-storage refers to making solar energy available during times when the solar panels themselves don’t produce energy (i.e., at night or on cloudy days). A trend toward coupling solar energy capture with storage is on the rise, as storage technology becomes more cost effective and its benefits are more broadly recognized. Solar-plus-storage installation scenarios include single-facility solar-plus-storage, solar retrofit for storage, multitechnology, or storage only.

Streamlining Solar
Local governments have tremendous influence over the prospects for solar energy growth. Unnecessarily burdensome paperwork, red tape, and other requirements on the local level can increase costs and discourage solar companies and solar technology from being adopted. If efforts to encourage solar progress in the areas where you build have been stymied by local requirements that add time or cost, there are ways to engage the community and local officials to make the process more user-friendly and cost-effective.

The best starting place is making sure local permitting or building staff know about the SolSmart program. Funded by the Department of Energy to support communities as they make improvements to permitting, inspection, and other regulatory requirements to support and encourage solar PV, SolSmart provides no-cost technical assistance from a team of national experts. These experts work to evaluate programs and practices that impact solar markets, and identify high-prospect opportunities for improvement. Examples of what SolSmart can help achieve for builders include:

  • Making the permit process transparent with a one-day turnaround;
  • Limiting the number of inspections to one;
  • Providing educational resources on solar technology and installation; and
  • Educating citizens about solar energy and their technologies.

Not Just for Single-Family
While single-family builders can capitalize on solar plus storage to help meet buyer demands for lower energy costs, improved indoor air quality, and reduced environmental impacts, the option casts a wider net. For example, in large residential projects, backup power and facility islanding are particularly useful during a sustained power outage. Facilities equipped with energy storage can be integrated into emergency management plans. Critical loads—electrical loads that are considered essential in the event of an outage—vary by location and facility function but may include refrigerators, medical devices, computer systems, and HVAC for sensitive populations. All of these functional needs can be supported with stored solar power.

For more information, visit Home Innovation Research Labs is a SolSmart technical support partner.