U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

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July 30, 2012

How do other communities use development regulations to encourage appropriate solar orientation for new development?


The most effective point in the development process to encourage solar orientation is when a parcel is being subdivided into lots for sale. Some communities have development regulations that require streets and lots to be oriented to maximize the solar resource available to each lot or to a minimum percentage of lots.

Typically, development regulations do not specify a rigid site plan for all new development. Instead, the regulations set a goal for the minimum percentage of houses that will have an east-west orientation for their longest side. In practice, this might be achieved through a wide range of street and lot design options.

Examples from PAS EIP-30

  • Clackamas (Oregon), County of. 2011. Zoning and Development Ordinance. Section 1017. Solar Access Ordinance for New Development.
  • Dixon (California), City of. 2011. Zoning Ordinance. Section 12.19.21. Single Family Residential and Secondary Living Units Design Standards. Section 12.27. Energy and Water Conservation Regulations.
  • Laramie (Wyoming), City of. 2011. Unified Development Code.Chapter 15.14, Development Standards; Section 15.14.030.A, Solar Energy; Part 3, Solar Oriented Lots. Chapter 15.28, Definitions.
  • Oakridge (Oregon), City of. 2011. Zoning Code. Article 15, Subdistricts; Section 15.04(8), Planned Unit Development Subdistrict.
  • San Luis Obispo (California), City of. 2011. Municipal Code. Title 16. Subdivisions; Chapter 16.18, General Subdivision Design Standards; Section 16.18.160, Energy Conservation. Seattle, Wash.: Code Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Santa Clara (California), County of. 2011. County Code. Division C12, Subdivisions and Land Development; Article IV, Requirements; Part 9, Solar Access for Subdivision Development. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

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