Historic Preservation and Alternative Energy

The Alternative Energy Committee and Old King’s Highway Historic District Committee are in discussions on how to accommodate alternative energy features into the Historic District.  From reading a variety or articles on-line, it is clear that this is a significant issue.  There are reports of areas allowing solar and wind facilities with limited restrictions on historic structures as well as reports of out-right prohibitions.  There are also reports of state initiatives to over-ride historic district as well as home-owner restrictions on the placement of alternative energy facilities on residential properties.  Clearly, this is an issue for careful consideration.

Here are a variety of discussions addressing the compatability between historic structures and alternative energy.

Spring Lake Inn, Spring Lake, New Jersey provides an example of a historic structure which was allowed to place a number of solar panels on the front face.  Here is a close-up of the photo-voltaic array on the roof.

And from Scotland this story about using solar and other green techniques to generate the savings and revenue needed to preserve Scottish antiquities.  This particular entity is charged with preserving Scotland’s open areas as well as its historic properties.

Even the White House has hosted solar panels.  In 1979, at the height of the last energy crisis, President Carter had panels installed on the roof of part of the building.

 1979 Solar Panels installed at the White House

1979 Solar Panels installed at the White House

White House Solar Panels

White House Solar Panels

Here is an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal two years ago, An Inconvenient Turbine: Conservation vs. Preservation Homeowners Who Go Green Face Neighbors’ Objections; How Gore Got His Solar Panels.  The article points out that the need for determining the appropriate balance between historic preservation and home owner association restrictions and energy saving improvements.

The following are a series of other articles dealing with the same issues we in Dennis are dealing with.

Breckenridge encourages solar panels for historic district

Here comes the sun, City Commission adopts solar panel ordinance

The carbon cost of protecting our heritage

Green preservation: Historic district codes, environmental upgrades sometimes at odds

Solar panels power historic house

How to go green in the historic district


2 thoughts on “Historic Preservation and Alternative Energy

  1. Doug Hempel

    Hi Dan,

    I realize this article is about a year old and hopefully you’ll see this comment, but has any progress been made between the Dennis Alternative Energy Commission and the various historic district boards/commissions in town?

    I’m a member of Barnstable’s newly formed Renewable Energy Commission and this is a hot topic with me — in particular at the moment — because of a recent Old King’s Highway hearing on my own home, which only *barely* is contained within the OKH. I’m hoping to have these same discussions with our historic commissions and get some streamlined processes in place for solar (at a minimum).

    I’m wondering if you have any progress to share on this topic. Also, since your commission is a bit older than ours, would you be willing to come in and speak with us as some point about your experiences and progress to date? Or perhaps we could come to your meeting and discuss?


  2. Daniel Fortier Post author


    We have a split board. It will be interesting to see what happens with wind systems when they are proposed. We have had some success with solar, and hope to get somewhere with wind. The tests will be a proposal for the Water District and one for Aquaculture Research Corporation.

    As to someone coming to your meeting, I would suggest a member of the Alternative Energy Committee themselves.


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