As of 2014, all new homes built in Lancaster, California will be required to have solar, thanks to the efforts of Republican mayor Rex Parris.
It would be the first city to do so, potentially setting an example for others to follow. Last year, California updated the state's energy code, requiring buildings to be "solar-ready."
He expects the City Council to approve the modification to residential zoning codes, even though the construction industry is resisting the measure.
"I believe global warming is going to be solved in neighborhoods, not by nations and I want Lancaster to be part of that," Parris told ReWire.
Lancaster, which is in the Mohave desert just north of Los Angeles, is home to about 160,000 people and some of the biggest solar farms in California, such as the 230 MW Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One and 66 MW Alpine Solar project.
As of January 1, 2014, it would be mandatory for homes built on lots over 7,000 square feet to have, at minimum, a 1-1.5 kilowatt solar system; lots over 100,000 square feet would have solar systems of at least 1.5 kilowatts.
There's lots of flexibility on where the solar system would be - either on the roof, or aggregated for more than one home using ground-mounted arrays or even on carports.
If 10 homes in a subdivision each have a 1 kW requirement, for example, a builder would have the option of installing one 10 kW, two 5 kW systems, four 2.5 kW systems or 10, 1 kW systems.
Model homes have to display the kind of solar system the builder offers and if a development is built in phases, the solar requirement would have to be completed before moving onto successive phases. The zoning changes also streamline permits for solar installations.
If they really don't want to include solar for their homes, builders have another choice - they can buy solar credits from other solar generating systems within city limits.
Other communities are starting to lead on this too. Solar is mandatory on large commercial developments in Culver City, California, and towns in Hawaii require solar heating for new homes.