City of San Jose - Solar Access Design Guidelines

August 02, 2021


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.

Program Overview

Implementing Sector: Local
Category: Regulatory Policy
State: California
Incentive Type: Solar/Wind Access Policy
Web Site:
Start Date:
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
  • Solar - Passive
  • Solar Water Heat
  • Solar Space Heat
  • Solar Photovoltaics


Name: Residential Design Guidelines


Name: Mary Tucker
Organization: City of San Jose
Address: 200 East Santa Clara Street, 10th Floor
San Jose CA 95113-1905
Phone: (408) 975-2581

This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.