Home Innovation Insights

DOE's SolSmart program aims to remove administrative barriers to building with solar.

Patricia Gunderson, PE
August 15, 2016

Streamlined Permitting for PV? Yes, Please!

Even if you’re sold on PV for future projects, that decision may be only the first hurdle. Sometimes zoning, permitting, and inspection requirements can scuttle the best ideas. Never fear! The Department of Energy is funding new initiatives to help make it easier to go solar in your community - SolSmart.

Similar to the success generated by the challenge/support/reward approach taken by voluntary green certification programs such as NGBS and LEED, SolSmart is aimed at encouraging communities to examine their current building department practices with respect to solar installations. The program can help them modify these approaches to reflect nationwide best practices for reducing the complexity, cost, and time associated with solar.

SolSmart offers a tiered designation – Bronze, Silver, or Gold – to recognize communities that have shown both commitment and success in reducing red tape in the following areas:

  • Permitting
  • Planning, Zoning, and Development
  • Inspection
  • Construction Codes
  • Solar Rights
  • Community Engagement
  • Market Development and Finance

How does this affect you as a builder or developer? Well, you have spent your whole career nurturing relationships with the staff in your local building department. You can help by introducing them to the SolSmart program, and confirming for them that it has real benefit. Solar installations are complex and specific. SolSmart can provide excellent resources such as sample code and policy language, statistics and data, expert advice by phone or email, and even on-site technical assistance.

You can start by checking out the new SolSmart website and sharing the link with your contacts in the local building department. Home Innovation’s staff is also happy to talk to reach out to your local contacts, if you'd prefer -- just use our online contact form to let us know the name and contact info for the person you know who might be receptive to this opportunity. You can also let us know if there are other ways you think we should be spreading the word about SolSmart.

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