Solar Power Your Condominium

Is your electricity bill climbing?  Many people who are now working at home and generally staying in more are paying more these days.  Help is available if your utility payments are outside of your budget. For others, rising electricity costs may signal that it’s a good time to install solar power.

If you live in a condominium and would like to install rooftop solar but always assumed it would be too difficult, you’re in luck. Installing solar at condo building is easier now thanks to changes in laws that govern condominium buildings.  These changes were explored at a Lunch and Learn webinar recently hosted by Climate Action Santa Monica and the City of Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and Environment. 

Watch the full lunch and learn webinar on Solar for Condos

In the webinar, local real estate attorney and condo law expert, Paul DeSantis, digs into the revised laws as well as the process for getting solar panels installed on a condominium building.  Significantly, two-thirds of condo owners are no longer needed to move forward with a solar project. Insurability and financing are also improved. Paul observes that a single condo owner can now move the process along fairly quickly, while laying a path for other condo owners to install solar as well.

Drew Johnstone, Senior Sustainability Analyst for the City of Santa Monica, provides an overview of solar how it works, how it’s installed and what to expect from your new bill. He also reviews the site conditions required for solar installation and addresses how different types of condominium buildings can lay out a rooftop solar system.

Laurene von Klan, CASM’s co-chair has been heading up the CASM solar program. CASM is working with the city on this project because Santa Monica has huge rooftop solar potential.  She hopes that the new laws can jump start a wave of solar power installations in the city. “We have so many flat roofs on multi-unit buildings and so much sun. Solar power is a natural, do-able way for Santa Monica to generate results for the climate.”

Support is being provided to help interested condominium owners determine if solar power is suited for them and their building.

If you are interested in learning more please email You will receive a checklist that will help evaluate your solar potential.  If solar is feasible on your building, a second screening and assistance with layout of a system will provided.

What if you live in an apartment and rent your home? Renewable energy is available to you, too. You can receive 100% renewable energy through the Clean Power Alliance.  And there are other steps you can take to lower your energy carbon footprint. Please check out Renewable Energy Resources for Renters.

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Jobs for the Future: SMC Trains a Green-Tech Workforce

As part of the National Solar Open House on October 5th, Santa Monica College’s Sustainable Technologies Program opened its doors to the public for an inside look at the campus’s solar installations and its award-winning sustainable technology learning facilities. 

Climate Action Santa Monica (CASM) Steering Committee members got a tour of the large-scale solar power installation on a 10,000 square foot city-owned office on the airport property.  Hundreds of solar panels cover the roof of the building and generate 53,000 watts of electricity, enough to fully power all the offices.

Solar-powered office building just east of the Museum of Flying on Airport Avenue

This is an example of the numerous facilities that are being planned to meet Santa Monica’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.  Implementation of the city’s Climate Action and Adaption Plan (CAAP) will require a growing workforce to fulfill this critical mission. Learn more about CAAP.  

SMC renewable energy professor Stuart Cooley in the lab of the school’s Sustainable Technologies Program.

This is where SMC’s nationally recognized Sustainable Technologies Program comes in.  It was launched in response to this rapidly expanding need for skilled workers in the green jobs sector. The program provides students with topflight training for employment in solar energy, recycling, resource management, energy efficiency, public policy, and other sustainability-oriented fields. 

Learn more about SMC’s Sustainable Technologies offerings or contact Stuart Cooley at or call (310) 434-8721.

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Photo credit: SMC students performing a public installation at the Dept. of Energy’s Sunshot Conference.