SolSmart Designation Solar Training Cohort


Start: June 2019
End: December 2019
Client or funder: The Solar Foundation


SolSmart is a national qualification and rating system used to make it faster, easier and more affordable for communities to install solar photovoltaics (PV).  Communities that achieve designation are recognized as SolSmart Gold, Silver, or Bronze.

Three prerequisites are necessary, plus credit points are awarded in these categories:

  • Prerequisites
    • Solar Statement of Commitment
    • Permitting Checklist
    • Zoning Review and Guidance
    • Foundational Categories:
      • Permitting (total available credits: 135)
      • Planning, Zoning, and Development (total available credits: 145)
    • Special Focus Category: (total available credits: 700)
      • Inspections
      • Construction Codes
      • Solar Rights
      • Utility Engagement
      • Community Engagement
      • Market Development and Finance

Designation Levels

  • Bronze: Prerequisites; plus at least 20 credits in each of the two foundational categories; plus total of 20 credits across the six Special Focus Categories)
  • Silver: Fulfill requirements for SolSmart Bronze Community; plus Silver-required actions in Planning, Zoning and Development and Special Focus-Inspection categories; plus 100 credits overall from actions taken in any combination of categories.
  • Gold:  Fulfill requirements for SolSmart Silver Community; plus two Gold-required actions in Permitting and Planning, Zoning and Development categories; plus 200 credits overall from actions taken in any combination of categories.

Project Activity

Technical Assistance was provided to communities to develop or assemble documentation pertaining to the SolSmart application requirements.


ICLEI performed these tasks:

  • Trained 18 community planning, zoning, and permitting staff on the solar-readiness requirements
  • Facilitated group learning via 6 web calls and ongoing via ICLEI’s online training platform
  • Navigated the requirements for participants to achieve “credits” toward Bronze, Silver, and Gold designation levels
  • Prepared SolSmart applications for review by the Solar Foundation
  • Developed communications products to recognize community achievement
  • Hosted an in-person workshop for 37 attendees on Local-State Collaboration for Clean Energy, Sullivan County, New York

5 communities received SolSmart-Designation, including two at Silver and one at Gold levels.

Those Involved

Oberlin, OH
Douglas County, KS
Auburn, WA
East Lansing, MI
Columbia, SC
Santa Fe County, NM
Philipstown, NY
Larchmont, NY
Sullivan County, NY

“Working with ICLEI to achieve SolSmart designation showed us we are on the right track and that we should continue to work through the SolSmart roadmap. As a designated Bronze community, we can strive to meet silver or gold designation. SolSmart incentivizes the County to go further.” – Heather Brown, Sullivan County