Solar Where Feasible

Solar Where Feasible

Affordable Solar for Affordable Housing

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Since 2020, HPD's Solar Where Feasible program supported over 12 MW of cost-effective solar in 169 new buildings and 192 existing buildings. The buildings will save approximately $1.9 million on their annual electric bills and reduce 4,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year.

Important updates for 2023: The Solar Feasibility Tool has been updated to reflect changes to pricing and incentives, as well as new information in preparation for the expected IRA incentives. There are also formatting improvements.

Background: NYC has committed to 1 gigawatt of solar citywide by 2030. Solar on private property is essential to achieving this goal. Local Laws 92 and 94 of 2019 mandate solar or green roofs on all new roofs, however, affordable housing is subject to HPD's alternative compliance pathway until 2024. HPD's Solar Where Feasible policy requires solar on affordable housing when it is cost-effective, ensuring that investment in clean energy helps create and preserve affordable housing by lowering building operating expenses, creating green jobs, and reducing harmful emissions. HPD has partnered with non-profit Solar One to create tools to identify and optimize solar projects across HPD's portfolio, and to provide free technical assistance with HPD's Solar Feasibility Analysis.

Requirements: All HPD projects are required to install solar where it is deemed cost-effective. A Solar Feasibility Analysis is required for all HPD New Construction and Preservation projects receiving HPD subsidy. For projects certifying through Enterprise Green Communities (EGCC) or LEED, the Solar Feasibility Analysis is submitted as part of the EGC PreBuild/LEED Waiver process, and for Preservation projects, the Solar Feasibility Analysis is part of the scoping process. All solar projects must comply with the Solar Technical Requirements and use a NYSERDA-approved installer.

Solar Feasibility Analysis

The Analysis: All projects must submit a Solar Feasibility Analysis. This should be done early in the design process to maximize solar potential. The Solar Feasibility Analysis must be submitted along with roof plans for each building or portfolio clearly denoting the estimated usable roof area for solar or a green roof (referred to as the "sustainable roofing zone" by the DOB). For projects proposing solar as an architectural element, renderings and descriptions are strongly encouraged.

The following projects will be exempt from the requirement to install solar:

  • Projects installing a green roof over 90% of the sustainable roofing zone
  • Projects that provide documentation showing that the roof cannot support a minimum system size of 4kW
  • Projects that provide documentation that a solar project cannot meet a 10-year payback using the Solar Feasibility Analysis

To submit the analysis, please visit the Solar Feasibility Intake webpage on Solar One's website. You will be asked to fill in a few fields and upload the required documents. HPD's Sustainability Officer and your HPD Project Manager will automatically be notified when you analysis is submitted. Solar One can help the owner or applicant complete the Solar Feasibility Analysis and Screening Tool. A link to contact Solar One for free assistance with the analysis or the tool is available on this page.

For multi-building portfolios, please contact Solar One for a simplified method of submitting the Solar Feasibility Analysis for all buildings in the portfolio.

HPD Review and Approval: How does HPD review your Solar Feasibility Analysis? The tool will generate a payback period – and projects showing a payback of 10 years or less will be required to implement solar because they have minimal impact to project subsidy and make financial sense. HPD will also encourage solar installations that do not meet this 10-year payback threshold – if they have co-benefits (like a solar pergola/canopy over a usable roof deck) and/ or are competitively priced and have minimal impact on subsidy. Projects meeting these criteria will be noted as “recommended” or “strongly recommended” and may be considered to the extent that they fit into project budgets.

Once the Solar Feasibility Analysis has been submitted, Solar One will review for consistency and opportunities to optimize the design. If further information is required or the application is being rejected, the applicant will be notified and will be required to provide additional information. Once the review is complete, Solar One will provide recommendations to HPD regarding approval.

After review, HPD will issue a signed Solar Approval Form to the applicant and HPD PM noting whether solar is Required, Strongly Recommended, Recommended, or Not Required. A signed form is a requirement for the EGC PreBuild Authorization process and Green Communities PreBuild Review. A signed form is also required for projects seeking LEED Certification and will be part of the DOB Exemption process. Note that a DOB Exemption Letter will not be generated without a completed and approved Solar Feasibility Analysis. Applicants are welcome to resubmit should they choose to do so.

HPD's Solar Feasibility Analysis

This analysis utilizes a tool, co-developed with Solar One, to help building owners assess whether a building can accommodate a cost-effective array. Easy to use, the tool can estimate the proposed system’s energy production, energy savings, installed cost before and after incentives, and payback period. Users can modify the inputs (usable roof area, mounting type) to optimize a system’s design and determine the best, most cost-effective solar array for their project.

Free Technical Support: We are pleased to have a three-year solar technical assistance partnership with non-profit Solar One. Solar One is available to provide our affordable housing partners and HPD staff with free assistance completing solar feasibility screenings, identifying solar incentives and financing options, and competitively procuring bids for solar design and installation services. Email for a solar consultation if you have a project in your portfolio that you believe may be a strong candidate for solar or is required to do a feasibility analysis as a prerequisite for Enterprise Green Communities or LEED Certification.

This partnership was made possible by NYSERDA, who competitively procured these solar technical assistance services on behalf of HPD.

Forms and Tools

Useful Links and Resources