Design Professional Requirements:
Solar Energy

Applicability of Code

For existing buildings, solar installation work should comply with NYC Construction Codes, NYC Electrical Code, NYC Energy Conservation Code and applicable zoning regulations. Per the 2014 Administrative Code, section 28-101.4.3 and 2016 ECC 101, additions, alterations, renovations or repairs to installed systems shall conform to what is required for new installations without necessarily requiring the existing installation to comply with all of the requirements of this Code.  Additions, alterations or repairs shall not cause an existing installation to become unsafe, hazardous or overloaded.

In addition, other City agencies have their own requirements which must be met, including, but not limited to the: Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), and the Department of City Planning (DCP).

The NYC Fire Code (FC) allows all existing legally non-complying conditions to remain non-compliant until construction occurs.  All non-complying conditions on the roof must be brought into compliance with the current Fire Code unless FDNY issues a variance for the project.

*Note: While the following is a list of key zoning, Code and other regulations that may be relevant in the design of the project, it does not cover all applicable regulations.*

Applicable Codes


Project Element

Applicable Code and Regulations

Current Code

Prior Codes




Structural Analysis and Mounting Details

BC Chapter 16

2014 BC 1601.2 and
Title 27/Subchapter 10

2014 BC 1601.2 and
1938 Article 8 and 9

Special Flood Hazard Area

2014 BC Appendix G and ASCE 24-05

Special and Progress Inspections

2014 BC Chapter 17

Tenant Protection

2014 AC 28-104.8.4

FDNY Requirements: Rooftop Landings, Rooftop Access, Edge Protection and Color Coding of Conduit

2014 FC 504.4 and FC 512

Electrical Diagram

2011 EC Article 690 and EC27-3018

NYCECC Analysis and Commissioning

2016 NYC ECC 101.5.2, ECC C408 and 1 RCNY 5000

NOTE: New applications for buildings erected under the 2008 Code must comply with the 2014 Code, as required by AC §28-101.4 and 102.4.3


  • Permitted Obstructions.  Solar panels are permitted obstructions on roofs/bulkheads/walls of buildings and accessory structures: ZR 23-62(m); ZR 24-51(n); ZR 33-42(n);
  • ZR 43-42(m).
  • Height and Setback Regulations. As part of a building structure, solar panels shall comply with Height and Setback Regulations or Permitted Obstructions (see sections listed above): ZR 23-60;
  • ZR 24-50;
  • ZR 33-40, and;
  • ZR 43-40.

Other Regulation(s) for Reference

You may also need to comply with other City agency requirements, for example: Fire Department (FDNY), Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to name a few.

Guidelines for Submission of Solar Installation Project Plans

Prior to submission to the DOB, the applicant’s review of the proposed solar energy system design should cover all existing electrical, rooftop, and structural components affected by the proposed scope of work, as required to verify Code-compliance. Based upon the complexity and scale of the project, the information provided on the drawings should show a clear description of the work required for the project.

Although DOB does not mandate the organization and style of construction documents, the guidelines outlined in this chapter should provide a consistent approach for preparation of construction documents that will facilitate the plan review process. In many cases, the project may involve the documentation of existing systems and should clearly identify new versus existing systems.

Complete Submission of Solar Drawings/Construction Documents

The drawings represent work that is closely coordinated with many disciplines such as architectural, structural, electrical, and mechanical. Details essential for a complete submission of drawings include (refer to the NYC Administrative Code 28-104.7 and 1 RCNY 105-02). Details essential for a complete submission of drawings include:

Construction Documents. Drawings necessary to convey essential information such as schedules, riser diagrams, floor layout, mounting details, and control diagrams.  The title page should clearly define the project location and vicinity by graphical means. The applicable Building Codes and notes should be stated on the drawings.  A drawing index is recommended to clearly identify all the unique that may be involved.

  • Title Sheet. Should clearly define the project location and vicinity by graphical means. Drawing List, Block and Lot Number, Zoning District, Flood Zone Compliance when located in a Special Flood Hazard Zone, and basic building description such as building use, height, construction and occupancy class, and scope of work note.
    • Scope of work note should indicate that the application is solely for the installation of the Solar Electronic Generating System and any unrelated work to the property tax abatement was not included in the alteration application

  • Plot/Site Plan.  Provide plot/site plan showing site bounds and location of the building on the site, showing the location of the solar electric generating system elements on the buildings/site. Minimum requirements to be:

    • North arrow; Streets – distance to street
    • Dimension of lot
    • Block/Lot; Adjacent buildings (if attached/semi-detached)
    • Building height/stories Panel locations
    • Trees, utility poles – or other falling hazards.
  • General Notes. Should clearly define Tenants Safety Notes, structural evaluation notes, Special and Progress Inspections, Energy Analyses.

  • Floor Plan. Should clearly show location of inverter and other equipment if not mounted to exterior of building.

  • Roof Plan. Should clearly indicate layout of panels, dimensioned FDNY clearances with any obstructions, and overall dimensions. Clearly note number of panels, and roof pitch (i.e. flat or sloped).

  • Elevation.  To show compliance with the zoning height/setback requirements, location of equipment, etc.

  • Section(s).  This drawing can also show compliance with the zoning height/setback requirements and can indicate the location of the mounting systems, panels, and the structural members of the roof.

  • Detail Drawings. These drawings contain significant information required to clearly communicate the scope of work, clearly identify mounting details and structural analysis, and product specifications.

  • Electrical. Clearly show the electrical diagram, location of meter, grounding, AC and DC disconnects and inverter. This may be a single line diagram as per NYC 2011 EC Article 690 section 690.1.

Submission of Construction Documents

1. Drawings. The solar drawings should reflect clear scope of work and include all affected systems. Examples of this are as follows:

Designator -
Sheet Number:
Sheet Description:
PV-100.00 Title Sheet
PV-200.00 Site Plan
PV-300.00 General Notes
PV-400.00 Floor Plan
PV-500.00 Composite Roof
PV-600.00 Elevations and Section
PV-700.00 Detail Drawings
PV-800.00 Electrical

Legend(s) provided on the drawings shall include standard recognizable, symbols, abbreviations, notes, definitions, and list all applicable Building Code section numbers.

2. Required Documents/Submissions. Based on the scope of the project the following submissions may have to accompany the drawings at intake:

  • FDNY (Variance Approval Letter)
  • Property Tax Abatement
  • DEP (Asbestos Project Notification)
  • FDNY, DEP, and OER authorization
  • Tenant / Occupant Protection Plan (only if applicable)
  • SRO MD Anti-Harassment checklist (only if applicable)
  • Site survey or elevation certificate (if site is within a Special Flood Hazard Zone)

3. Post Approval Amendments. Any changes to approved scope of work that is significant and substantive will require submission of revised plans for Post Approval Amendment (PAA).  Approval for an amendment must be obtained before the work or equipment is completed.  Changes that are not substantive do not require a PAA; however these changes must be shown on plans and included in the ‘As Built’ submission at the end of the project (§28.104.3). Substantive changes require a PAA if the following criteria are met:

  • There is a change in the layout/configuration of panels effecting FDNY required clearance.

4. As Built Submission. All changes must be submitted in ‘As Built’ drawings at the end of the project.

Examples of changes that have to be shown on as built drawings are:

  • Changing the location or number of panels which would not affect cost or required FDNY clearances;
  • Altering the electrical diagrams.

Special and Progress Inspections

Solar installations require, per the Building Code, Special and Progress Inspections to be performed during and at the end of construction, as per the table below. Prior to approval, the Applicant of Record is required to identify all required Special and Progress Inspections. Prior to DOB permit issuance, the Owner must typically engage a registered Special Inspection Agency (SIA) who will take responsibility for the Special and Progress Inspections. Applicants of Record may perform these inspections if they are also registered as an SIA.

Structural Stability – Existing Buildings BC 1704.20.1

Special Inspection required for alterations to existing structures in which loads are transferred from one structural system of structural elements to another.

Fire Resistant Penetrations and Joints BC 1704.27

Special Inspection required for through-penetrations, membrane penetration firestops, fire resistant joint systems, and perimeter fire barrier systems that are tested and listed in accordance with BC Sections 713., 713.4.1.2, 714.3 and 714.4 must comply.

Flood Zone Compliance
(if applicable) BC 1704.29 and BC G105

If the building is in a special flood hazard zone, a Special Inspection Agency must verify construction complies with NYC Building Code Appendix G, locating all new equipment (excluding the AC disconnect) above the DFE (Design Flood Elevation

NYC Energy Code Progress Inspections:
Air Sealing and Insulation – Visual – IA6/IIA6

Progress Inspection required for all penetrations through the thermal envelope; penetrations  must be sealed to minimize air leakage per NYCECC R402.4.1 and C402.5.1.1

Final Inspection

In order to qualify for the solar Property Tax Abatement (PTA), a Final inspection must be completed, and a final sign-off must be obtained. This Final Inspection is performed by the Department of Buildings. Non-PTA projects may also have a Special Inspection Agency or Applicant of Record complete the final inspection on behalf of the Department of Buildings.

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