California reach code requiring solar and living roofs

Description: Effective January 1st, 2017, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to mandate solar and living roofs on most new construction. With the passage of this amendment to California’s 2016 Title 24 Building Efficiency Standards, between 15% and 30% of roof space on most new construction projects will incorporate solar, living roofs, or a combination of both.

In dense, urban cities the rooftops are valuable space that can be used more efficiently to benefit the environment and community. Rooftops are 30% of San Francisco’s land area, and an untapped resource. This ordinance provides flexibility for the building designer, owner, and developer to choose the best combination of solar photovoltaic (PV), solar water heating and living roof systems to maximize benefits based on location and building program.

Goal: California reach code requiring solar and living roofs: solar PV, thermal solar, living and cool roofs

Measurement: Percentage decrease in building energy use compared to California Title 24 standards

Time to Implement:


SF Planning – Project Better Roofs

Zoning Administrator (ZA) Bulletin No. 11: Better Roofs Ordinance

San Francisco’s 2016 Ordinance

Additional Information:

Living Roof Manual

For other local building code amendments, also see:

California local building code amendments (2019 code)

Contact Info:

Lisa Fisher
Senior Urban Planner, Resilience and Sustainability Lead
(628) 652-7450

Sectors(s) Buildings
Date First Adopted November 1, 2016
Last Updated October 30, 2021
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