Automated solar permitting effort aligns with International Building Codes, says ICC

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The International Code Council has determined that the Solar Automated Permit Processing Platform (SolarAPP+) aligns with the 2018 International Building Code (IBC) and the 2018 International Residential Code (IRC) for one and two-family residential dwelling rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar PV connected battery and storage systems.

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This determination comes as part of the Code Council’s continued collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to improve the utility of SolarAPP+ for local governments that use the model codes developed by the Code Council.

“NREL and the SolarAPP+ coalition are immensely grateful for the Code Council’s commitment to our mission of delivering more efficient online solar and solar and storage permitting,” said Jeff Cook SolarAPP+ Program Lead, NREL. “This announcement is exciting, though not unexpected, given we have been collaborating with the Code Council on SolarAPP+ since its inception.”

The Code Council provided key technical resources to conduct an extensive review of SolarAPP+ and the underlying specification documents to ensure they accurately capture requirements within the International Codes (I-Codes). The technical review considered the requirements of the 2018 I-Codes for solar photovoltaics and battery storage.

“The Code Council’s ensuring that SolarAPP+ aligns with the 2018 IBC and 2018 IRC will help increase the adoption of code-compliant solar energy solutions in communities worldwide,” said Joan O’Neil, Code Council Chief Knowledge Officer. “We look forward to our continued work with the SolarAPP+ technical team and are excited to see the ongoing success of the application as it continues to expand.”

API updates

Another recent SolarAPP+ development is a new API, via Accela, that fully integrates the process, giving installers confidence in auto-approvals and further reducing time per permit.

“The Accela API – part of our Construct API and soon to be in combination with a new API developed by NRE – integrates SolarAPP+ directly with Accela Citizen Access (ACA),” explains D’Ottavio. “Solar panel installers simply input plans into SolarAPP+, then are automatically redirected to ACA with an auto-filled permit for an auto-approval to start the project.”

Before the API integration, installers would submit designs to receive automated plan review and approval through SolarApp+ and then upload the information provided by SolarApp+ into their permit application in ACA. This new tight integration makes auto-approvals for solar permitting seamless and intuitive from start to finish, with no room for error. This update significantly reduces time and money spent by an installer to apply for a solar rooftop permit

What’s next?

  • California State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) is sponsoring legislation to require instant, online solar permitting. Senator Wiener included SolarAPP+ as a key component in this effort.
  • Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm also called on mayors across the United States to adopt SolarAPP+ to make going green easier, and encouraged more than 125 U.S. communities to sign-up to learn more about SolarAPP+.

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