While cities across the US are recognizing the benefits of solar energy, a solar panel installation on historic property must adhere to specific standards in order to preserve the structural character and aesthetics. Many old American cities like Boston and parts of New York boast a juxtaposition of old and new architecture. But even though solar systems are attributed to sustainable green energy, installing them to historical buildings and sites face stringent restrictions by local preservation commissions, depending on the region. As a company with experience in solar array installations in historic areas, here’s what you need to know.
First off, understanding the importance of preservation is key, which is why a solar installer must be well versed in historic rules and guidelines. In general, installations on landmark property and buildings cannot be visible from the ground and their historic character must not be compromised.
What about natural stone roofs?
Installing a solar system on a building with character can blend in nicely with natural stone. Slate shingles, steeply pitched roofs, and other “challenging” building characteristics can be fused with arrays without being seen from the streets.
Can we afford a project like a new solar system?
Historic districts should consider both the financial incentives of a solar system and look into opportunities specific to not for profits:
- Local restoration grants and awards
- Federal Renewable energy grants administered by the Department of Energy
- Increased support from eco-conscious trustees
- Prime opportunity for good press to build community support
We have an obligation to preserve the district as it is
If you care about retaining your district’s historic look, remember that keeping the foundation afloat is as important as guarding against water damage. Doing your part to end fossil fuel dependence protects your historic district against some strong forces. For example, economic blight threatens historic preservation, whereas investing in green energy strengthens your community with clean jobs in a growing industry. Likewise, research correlates reducing fossil fuel consumption to healthier communities. Mining for sources of energy doesn’t just make us sick; it produces air pollution that corrodes stone, including the bricks from which our historic properties are built.
Filing the paperwork must be a hassle
More and more municipalities have seen the light and taken steps to remove any bureaucratic obstacles to adding on a solar system. Building inspectors’ offices are taking interest in initiatives to streamline the paperwork required for getting a new solar system on the grid. Local governments are doing their part in protecting property owners from property assessment hikes and other policies that disincentive solar as a business move and made it challenging for the eco-conscious individual. The best solar energy contractors handle the paperwork for you, from the initial property evaluation and estimates for return on investment, through the permitting process, and up until the final grid hookup.
The same good intention that goes into historic preservation is the same spirit that guides a social responsibility to go solar. Going solar isn’t just for corporate giants like Google and Walmart. Reach out and schedule a free solar energy evaluation; it will answer all your questions and give you good information to bring back to your historic district.