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Solar in Historic Districts

As urban solar installation expands around the country, projects begin to pop up in and around historic districts of various cities. Locally, areas like Foggy Bottom, Dupont Circle, and Old Town Alexandria enjoy certain protections under historic commissions.

Urban rooftops are an excellent spot for solar installations of all sorts, and those in historic districts are eligible sites as long as the installation follows certain guidelines. While the protection of these districts and their character is of the utmost importance, solar panels can be installed in a way that does not threaten or disrupt the charm and original quality of historic areas.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), works to promote the successful integration of solar into historic areas, and provide helpful tips and guidelines for maintaining these districts while progressing their solar developments.

What is important to consider when installing solar in a historic district?

One of the most important considerations when installing solar in a historic district is ensuring the panels are not visually distracting or too apparent from a street view. Most installers have equipment and design abilities that allow rooftop panels to be low-lying and sleek in appearance, maintaining the original appearance of the historic building from visible angles. The main goal when installing in these protected areas is minimal visibility.

Considering the age of many buildings in historic districts, installers must take a careful assessment of the roof’s stability and its capacity to bear weight. Panels can also be placed far from certain historic features, such as chimneys or dormers, to ensure that there is no damage in installation or maintenance processes.

As long as the solar panels do not alter the appearance or quality of historic districts, they are a great way to improve any area’s energy resiliency and reduce carbon emissions.

Solar Permitting in Historic Districts

As long as the proposed project follows the aforementioned installation guidelines of the NTHP, the permitting process of solar in historic districts is similar to that of other projects. Reviewed on a case by case basis, local governments assess the solar proposal and decide if it is permissible or not.

Proposals for historic districts may require a higher level of detail and specification, but follow an otherwise similar process to other solar projects.

I live in a historic district – is solar still a good option for me?

Absolutely! Solar is still a great investment, and in all but the most special cases, you can be fairly sure a solar installation won’t pose a threat to your charming historic home. Click here to request a quote and get started today.

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