Going Solar

The Village of Riverside is committed to encouraging the use of small scale passive and active solar energy systems for residential and other building projects within the village, to further energy savings and conservation and to help improve the quality of life and environmental health of the community as a whole. At the same time, the Village recognizes that the regulation, construction, placement, and operation of solar energy systems are matters of public importance which concern aesthetics and other issues. The Village of Riverside encourages the use of ecologically sustainable building practices, conservation of natural resources through better energy management, and the use of renewable energy technologies and design principles in the development and redevelopment of residential and other property.

On October 6, 2018 the Village of Riverside partnered with the Village of Brookfield to hold a “Solar Summit” to provide information to our residents and builders who might be interested in Solar Energy Systems.  Representatives from ComEd, Brightleaf Homes, Blue Raven Solar, SunRun, and CertaSun were there to speak with individuals and answer questions regarding going solar.

Federal & State Incentives make now a great time for homeowners to consider going Solar. Chicago, although not sunny year round, does get over 2,500 hours of sunshine on average over the course of a year which makes solar energy a feasible option in Chicago. 

For more information visit the ComEd website:  www.comed.com/solar or the Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA) website:  www.IllinoisSolar.org

Materials from the Brookfield/Riverside Solar Summit can be found here.

Each community may have its own restrictions on solar panel placement.  Riverside’s Zoning Regulations on Solar Panels can be found in Section 10-7-6 Solar Energy Systems of the Riverside Zoning Ordinance. Below is a summary of those restrictions:

Roof/Building Mounted Solar Energy Systems

Visibility, Design And Impact Preferences:

Installation of solar energy systems in a manner that minimizes their visibility from public rights of way and the aesthetic impact of such systems is strongly encouraged but not required where such installation will impair the functional integrity and viability of a system. Persons installing solar energy systems should investigate all feasible alternative locations for placement of a solar energy system on a building or site so as to minimize the visual and other impacts of the system on the building and site and in order to minimize the visibility of solar energy systems from the public right of way and are encouraged to install solar energy systems in a manner that will not compromise the character of the structure and site or the surrounding neighborhood.

Building And Roof Mounted Solar Energy Systems:

1. Permitted: Building and roof mounted solar energy systems and their related solar collectors are permitted on both principal and accessory structures in the following locations:

(a) Any portion of the principal roof of a building;

(b) Any roof surface on the side or rear of a building;

(c) Side and rear building facades; and

(d) Front or corner building facades, only if the applicant obtains a special use permit which requires a public hearing and review by the Planning and Zoning Commission and final approval by the Village Board of Trustees.

2. Area And Protrusion:

The installation area of solar energy systems may not be greater than the roof section where the solar energy system shall be mounted. All roof mounted solar collectors shall be positioned within the field of the roof plane, and shall not protrude over any edges or overhang of the roof.

3. Orientation:

Solar collectors may be angled to maximize solar access. Where installed solar collectors vary from the pitch/angle of the roof on which the solar energy system is mounted, however, they shall not be visible from the public right of way, excluding public alleys, and except for flat roof installations.

4. Projection:

Solar collectors shall not project more than 4 feet from a building facade or roof plane where not visible from a public right of way and shall not project more than 12 inches from a building facade or roof plane where visible from a public right of way, excluding public alleys. Solar collectors visible from a public right of way and placed on awnings or otherwise used to simultaneously shade a structure's windows may extend beyond 12 inches, except that where such placement is on a front or corner building facade, placement is subject to a special use permit.

5. Extension Beyond Peak Of Roof:

Solar collectors shall not extend vertically above the highest peak of a pitched roof.

6. Setback Encroachment: Solar collectors may project into a side or rear setback, but shall be no closer than 5' feet to the side or rear property line. Solar collectors may not project into front, corner side or street yards, except where approved as a special use on front or corner building facades.

7. Height Limitation:

Solar collectors shall not project higher than the permitted building height without a zoning variation.

8. Flat Roof Installations:

Solar energy systems may be installed on a flat roof provided they do not project more than 10 feet above the flat roof on which they are installed, as measured from the roof base to the highest edge of the system. Flat roof installations shall be placed as far back on the roof as possible so as to limit their visibility from the public right of way.

Special Use:

Solar energy systems or portions thereof may be installed on front or corner building facades only upon application and the granting of a special use in conformance with the special use standards and procedures set forth in section 10-2-2-3 of the Riverside Zoning Ordinance.