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Bowser Administration Provides Policy Update on the District's Climate Change and Resiliency Goals

Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Revised Sustainability Guidelines Available for Public Review

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, the Bowser Administration released the proposed Sustainability Guide for Older and Historic Buildings, a result of collaboration between the Office of Planning (OP) and the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) to ensure ambitious sustainability goals can be met in the District through promoting and facilitating rehabilitation of older buildings to improve their performance and energy efficiency while also respecting the importance of historic preservation.

“As we fulfill our local responsibility to build a greener and more sustainable DC, respecting our historic fabric is a cornerstone of the District’s planning policies,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “By streamlining the ability to install solar and other green infrastructure in our historic neighborhoods, we are aiming to make Washington the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the country.”

The Office of Planning and its Historic Preservation Office are fully committed to working with the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) to reach the goals of the CleanEnergy DC Omnibus Amendment Act, including the requirement that 10% of the city’s energy use be generated by solar energy systems located in the District or by feeders serving the District.

“OP is working with DOEE and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to identify areas where land use regulations can better align with critical priorities around climate, energy, housing, and preservation. These guidelines are an example of the ability to meet multiple goals at once,” said Office of Planning Director Andrew Trueblood. Recent changes to the Zoning Regulations allow for community solar facilities, as a matter-of-right use as part of the Solar For All program, which is aimed at reducing the electric bills of at least 100,000 of the District’s low-income households.

The revised guidelines build on existing momentum. Since 2009, more than 1,400 permits for solar installations on historic properties have been approved administratively by the Historic Preservation Office if they are not prominently visible from public street view. These guidelines, which must be reviewed and approved by HPRB, would among other updates, allow for solar on front-facing sloped roofs if they are compatibly designed with low-profile panels set flush with and in a complementary color with the roof.

"DOEE has worked closely in partnership with OP to develop standards and guidelines to meet Mayor Bowser's aggressive goals to decarbonize energy sources in the District,” said DOEE Director Tommy Wells.

The Sustainability Guide for Older and Historic Buildings is an improved introduction to the evaluation, planning and decision-making required to carry out an effective green retrofit for owners, tenants, managers and residents of older historic buildings. The Historic Preservation Review Board is scheduled to consider these guidelines at its December 19th meeting.  Comments may be submitted to [email protected].


Jessica Carroll (OP) – (202) 550-6845; [email protected]
Maribeth DeLorenzo (DOEE) – (202) 731-5501; [email protected]