If you’re planning to build a house in South Miami, you’ll need to make sure it’s powered by the sun. The City Commission recently approved a law requiring new buildings — and even some renovation projects — to include solar, in a move that echoes laws in San Francisco and Santa Monica. But it’s the first of its kind in Florida, the Miami Herald reports, and some local building groups are voicing opposition.
The new rules, which will be enacted in September, require 175 square feet of solar panel to be installed per 1,000 square feet of sunlit roof area, or one panel with 2.75 kilowatt capacity per 1,000 square feet of living space (whichever is less) on residential construction, according to the Herald.
“We made history,” South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, a biology professor and advocate of solar, told the paper. “We’re the first city in the United States outside of California to approve this. It’s not going to save the world by itself but it’s going to get people thinking about [solar].”
Several builders’ groups took issue with the mandate, however, saying that the city should consider an incentive program, rather than a law, and that the new law could drive up construction costs. The paper reports that a medium-sized system would cost about $11,000 after factoring in federal credits, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
San Francisco’s mandate, which took effect this year, was driven in part by fears of climate change — which will hit the coastal city particularly hard.
“San Francisco is already experiencing the repercussions of excessive CO2 emissions as rising sea levels threaten the city’s shoreline and infrastructure, have caused significant erosion, increased impacts to infrastructure during extreme tides, and have caused the city to expend funds to modify the sewer system,” according to a report that accompanied the decision.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.