The Jan. 20 front-page article â€śAmid boom of solar panels, a kerfuffle over charmâ€ť focused on reviews required by law to protect the integrity of historic districts. It ignored that 80 percent of D.C. homes are not in historic districts and are subject only to usual building code requirements. Indeed, even within historic districts, roughly 90 percent of the homes are rowhouses with flat roofs or other architectural styles that can and do easily accommodate solar panels. As the article noted, more than 1,500 homes in historic districts are fitted with panels and most were readily approved by the Districtâ€™s Historic Preservation Office.
We live in Takomaâ€™s historic district, which has become the poster child for this issue. Whatâ€™s at stake are our bungalows and other homes with slanted roofs where the panels would be highly visible from the street. We both testified at the Historic Preservation Review Board hearings on the house featured in the story. We were pleased that the owner, who already had installed many approved solar panels, was willing to accommodate the changes needed to retain the character of his home while adding new ones that would be more visible from the street.
If the District is serious about using solar to reach its goal of 100 percent sustainable energy by 2032, the focus should be on the nonhistoric neighborhoods and the larger sites everywhere â€” apartments and commercial buildings â€” that could do far more to contribute to saving energy.
Loretta Neumann, Washington
Sara Green, Washington