CSA has published the first edition of SPE-900, Solar photovoltaic rooftop-installation best practices guideline. David Moses began working with CSA Group back in 2010 out of concern there were no structural standards in Canada for the installation of solar panels on buildings. After bringing it to their attention, the SPE-900 committee was formed and David contributed the section on structural engineering.
This guide is a first for Canada – it compiles information from around the world and should provide guidance for other countries as well. It outlines best practices for rooftop solar PV systems and addresses many issues including structural analysis of the building and racking, water penetration and health and safety issues impacting installers and first responders. Because solar PV electrical issues are addressed by the CEC Part I, the guideline does not duplicate these requirements, but rather points the user to the relevant sections of the Code.
The SPE-900 also examines different roofing materials and systems, including membranes, standing-seam metal roofing, steel high-rib roofing, steel shingle, asphalt, tile, slate, cedar shakes, and green roofs. Also considered are the structural systems and type of building materials (e.g., wood-frame rafters and joists, prefabricated wood trusses, structural steel beams and joists, and other systems in steel, masonry, concrete, and wood).
As always, local authorities having jurisdiction are the touch point for electrical and structural permit requirements for PV rooftop installations because specific requirements may vary by jurisdiction.