April 30, 2009 The Berkeley solar map not only allows householders and businesses to check the solar potential of their rooftops but also lets them identify all of the city’s solar installations. Residents can use the map to determine the size of solar system their roof requires, view available solar panel installers and obtain tax rebate information.

CH2M HILL's S.A.F.E. (Solar Automated Feature Extraction) system was used create the map. Combining aerial imagery with 3-D modeling, S.A.F.E. calculates the solar PV potential of a rooftop from factors including azimuth or direction of the sun and the presence of air conditioning units or other structures that might cast shadows on the rooftop.

This allows the solar map to show the available square footage for panels, slant of the roof and shade from nearby buildings or trees, so that the solar panels can be sized appropriately and positioned to maximize solar energy potential.

The project was completed by CH2M HILL in conjunction with Berkeley’s Office of Energy and Sustainable Development (ESD), which sees the map as a step towards a healthy, sustainable community by reducing greenhouse gas emission and energy use.

“The City of Berkeley is taking a leadership role in solar energy and empowering its citizens to become good stewards of the environment,” said David Herrmann, client solutions director, CH2M HILL’s Enterprise Management Solutions. “The city has the people and the technology to significantly change how the municipality, its businesses, and residences generate energy in the years to come.”

The solar map can be viewed on the City of Berkeley website.

Jude Garvey