City of San Jose - Solar Access Design Guidelines (California)

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Last modified on February 12, 2015.

Rules Regulations Policies Program

Place California

Name City of San Jose - Solar Access Design Guidelines
Incentive Type Solar/Wind Access Policy
Applicable Sector Construction, Residential
Eligible Technologies Passive Solar Space Heat, Photovoltaics, Solar Space Heat, Solar Water Heat
Active Incentive Yes

Implementing Sector Local
Energy Category Renewable Energy Incentive Programs

Date added to DSIRE 2000-01-01
Last DSIRE Review 2012-07-09

References DSIRE[1]


The San Jose Environmental Services Department has developed voluntary guidelines to encourage solar orientation in new construction. These Solar Access Design Guidelines specify that the long axis of new dwellings should face within 30 degrees west and 45 degrees east of true south. Because houses in a subdivision usually face the street, planners in San Jose found that the easiest way to achieve solar orientation was to orient the streets within 30 degrees of the true east-west axis. Homes in such a subdivision would have good solar orientation by default.

Further suggested design guidelines include aesthetic concerns for residential communities. Solar devices should not block views or be placed where they are visible from the public right-of-way. If devices are attached to the building, they should lay flush with the roof line. If they are not attached to the building, collectors should be located in side or rear yards and screened by whatever landscaping is available to reduce their visibility. Exposed hardware, frames and piping should have a matte finish, and be consistent with the color scheme of the primary structure.

For more information about solar design guidelines: see the link above and pull up the "Residential Design Guidelines" to chapter 14 for the solar access guidelines. Click the following link to view the permitting requirements or call (408) 535-3555.

Incentive Contact

Contact Name Mary Tucker
Department City of San Jose
Division Environmental Services Department
Address 200 East Santa Clara Street, 10th Floor

Place San Jose, California
Zip/Postal Code 95113-1905
Phone (408) 975-2581


  • Incentive and policy data are reviewed and approved by the N.C. Solar Center's DSIRE project staff.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1  "Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE)"