In March 2009 New Jersey enacted legislation (A.B. 1558) designed to support the integration of solar energy systems into new residential developments. The law requires that, whenever "technically feasible", developers of residential developments with 25 or more dwelling units (i.e., single-family residences) offer to install or provide for the installation of a solar energy system on the unit during negotiations with a prospective purchaser. Solar energy systems are defined to include systems that use solar energy to provide "all or a portion of the heating, cooling, or general energy needs of a dwelling unit, including, but not limited to, nocturnal heat radiation, flat plate or focusing solar collectors, or photovoltaic solar cells." It appears that this broad definition could include passive as well as active solar elements. Developers are required to disclose this option in their advertising materials, which must include information on installation costs, environmental benefits, energy cost savings, and incentive programs for which the installation may qualify.
The law took effect immediately upon enactment; however, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), in cooperation with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU), must develop rules and standards for its implementation. The law notably does not provide a time frame for the adoption of regulations and as of February 2012 no such rules have been established. Covered dwellings with construction permits issued on or after the 90th day after these standards are adopted will be required to comply with the law. The rules and standards to be adopted by the DCA and BPU must define the criteria for "technical feasibility" and include a variety of elements related to ensuring the technical sufficiency of solar energy systems. Among these standards are requirements that the solar energy system:
- be designed to primarily offset on-site energy consumption
- use new components
- have at least a 10-year manufacturer's warranty
- be equipped with monitoring and performance measuring equipment.
The DCA and BPU are required to create educational materials for developers to demonstrate how solar energy and energy efficiency may be incorporated during building construction, and provide information on incentives which may be available. In cases where a homeowner's association or similar membership association will be responsible for maintenance, repair, or replacement of property upon which a solar energy system is installed, the owner of the dwelling unit may be responsible for certain additional costs if the system affects the performance of these activities.