Historic preservation and solar power generation are often both part of of a community's plan to become more sustainable. They have some notable similarities. Both are environmentally friendly. Historic properties were typically built with attention to climate and air circulation and with locally sourced materials, and they are usually located on walkable streets and in relatively central locations. Additionally, preservation of historic properties is "greener" than tearing down and rebuilding because of the energy and materials savings. Similarly, using renewable power from the sun in place of fossil fuels helps reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
Both have economic benefits as well. Designating a property or district as historic increases property values and attracts investment in and around the area. Homes with solar installations sell for more money while saving owners money on their energy bills.
However, while solar is part of an energy solution for the future, historic preservation is the key to protecting the community's past. Tension has developed between these two interests as communities struggle with how to both preserve their past and ensure a sustainable future.
About the Authors
Erin Musiol, AICP
Erin currently leads the Long Range Planning Division at the City of Rock Hill, South Carolina. Prior to joining Rock Hill, Erin was a Senior Research Associate with the American Planning Association in Washington DC and a Research Analyst with Kimley-Horn out of their Charlotte office.