Installing Solar Panels on Historic Buildings

A Survey of the Regulatory Environment


Cultural resources such as historic buildings and districts occupy an important place in our nation’s built environment; however these same resources are often considered impediments to achieving a community’s energy efficiency and renewable energy goals. While this assumption is at times unfounded, the fact remains that certain regulatory practices may limit the use of renewable energy technologies on historic resources.

However, with the adoption of financial incentives and the removal of regulatory impediments to the use of solar as a viable power source, solar energy systems are being installed on buildings in urban and rural communities throughout the United States.  As solar technology improves and become more affordable, this trend is likely to continue.

The question is, then, when and how are solar panels to be installed on historic buildings, in historic districts or at historic sites?

The report, Installing Solar Panels on Historic Buildings: A Survey of the Regulatory Environment, prepared by the North Carolina Solar Center and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, offers a pathway to better integration of solar energy systems onto historic resources.

This paper was created as part of the North Carolina Solar Center’s efforts under the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. As a member of this partnership, the North Carolina Solar Center provides information and technical expertise to local governments interested in implementing solar programs and policies.


Read entire publication