Revised IR 16-8: Solar Photovoltaic and Thermal Systems Review & Approval Requirements
The Division of the State Architect (DSA) revised the Interpretation of Regulations (IR) IR 16-8: Solar Photovoltaic and Thermal Systems Review and Approval Requirements to reflect the 2019 California Building Code (CBC). New standards and guidelines had been published since the last posted version. Therefore, a general effort was made to provide pointers, where feasible, to direct the user to those applicable publications and to remove language where the topic is now adequately covered in one of the referenced publications.
IR PC-7: Pre-Check (PC) Design Criteria for Steel Cantilevered Column Structures (Ordinary and Special): 2019 CBC, the second to last to be released in the PC series, has also been posted. This IR includes requirements for solar installations on open-frame steel structures. IR 16-8 has been updated to be congruent with IR PC-7.
The effective date of revised IR 16-8 is July 23, 2020, except as noted in Items 1 and 2 below for previous exemptions of solar systems from DSA review. The revision includes the following significant changes and clarifications:
- Solar systems and/or battery storage installation projects are no longer eligible for the cost exemptions in IR A-22: Construction Projects and Items Exempt From DSA Review, Section 1.3.2 regardless of the cost. This provision has been in effect since issuance of current IR A-22, Revised April 6, 2020, and this change synchronizes IR 16-8 with IR A-22.
- Ground mount systems will no longer be eligible for exemption from DSA review, even if they are fenced off and/or posted with signage noting they are not open to students, staff or public. The exemption in Section 5 in the previous Jan. 25, 2017 version of IR 16-8 will continue to be allowed prior to Oct. 1, 2020, after which, all ground mount systems will require submission to DSA for approval and construction oversight.
- The Background section has been expanded and elaborated from previous version.
- A new Definitions section has been added to define terms used throughout this document balance of systems (BOS), solar systems, support frame systems, ballasted solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) roof covering systems).
- Information regarding structural design requirements for the solar system components, their attachments, and the supporting structure or foundation (formerly contained within Sections 1 and 2 of the Jan. 25, 2017 version) has now been expanded and reorganized for greater clarity into Sections 1 – 5.
- Former Section 3 (Access Compliance, Fire & Life Safety (FLS) and Electrical Requirements) has been renumbered to Section 6. Access and FLS requirements have been revised to address previous plan review concerns, and to provide consistency and coordination of application.
- Former Section 4 (Solar Project Submittal Requirements) has been updated and renumbered to Section 7.
- Former Section 5 (Solar Projects Not Subject to DSA Review and Approval) has been eliminated. All solar installation projects require DSA review (see also Items 1 and 2 in this summary).
- Former Section 2.3 (Solar Panels supported on Standing Seam Metal Roofs (SSMR)) has been renumbered and renamed to Section 5.1 (Solar PV Panels supported on SSMR), reorganized and updated to clarify that there are three separate issues to address when solar systems are supported by SSMR: SSMR panel attachment to structure (Section 5.1.1), solar PV panel attachment to SSMR panels (Section 5.1.2), and field installation quality control testing (Section 5.1.3).
Please direct any questions to Jim Hackett, Principal Structural Engineer, Codes and Standards Unit, at email@example.com.