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The Greening of the White House (summary)

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"We're going to identify what it takes to make the White House a model for efficiency and waste reduction, and then we're going to get the job done."

President Bill Clinton

The White House, which recently celebrated its 200th birthday, has a longtradition of demonstrating technological innovation. In keeping with thattradition, President Clinton announced the Greening of the White HouseInitiative on Earth Day 1993. The initiative improves the energy andenvironmental performance of the White House complex by identifyingopportunities to reduce waste, lower energy use, and make an appropriateuse of renewable resources, all while improving indoor air quality andbuilding comfort.

The Greening of the White House Report, on President Clinton's legacy ofgreening at the White House, summarizes progress made todate and gives an overview of new opportunities identified during the pastyear. It also includes an environmental history of the White House and a short tour of the buildings that make up the WhiteHouse complex. Over the past five years, this initiative has involvedhundreds of dedicated people from both within and outside government. Adescription of how they worked together to develop and implement the Greening Planis also included in the report, along with a number of helpful resources.

Many of the steps identified during the first two years of theGreening Initiative were implemented. The Second Annual Report, issued in March 1996, estimated savings of more than $150,000 per year in energy and watercosts, landscaping expenses, and expenditures associated with solid waste.White House Greening measures completed since 1996 are saving anadditional $150,000 each year, for a total of approximately $300,000 annually.These new projects, together with original measures, are also avoidingatmospheric emissions of at least 845 metric tons of carbon every year.

The Greening Plan can decrease White House energy and waterconsumption by 50 percent or more. It also supports President Clinton's leadershiprole in protecting the environment. The Greening of the White House projectcreates an environmentally sustainable White House and a world-classenvironmental showcase.

The White House has been described as the house of the people. Inthat sense, this work is not just about the White House, it is about your house.Many of the steps identified and implemented in this report make good economicand environmental sense for many Americans. Hopefully this report willprovide you with the ideas and inspiration to make your home, office, orbusiness more energy efficient, environmentally sound, and comfortable.

The Program's Start

The President's Council on Environmental Quality assembled a team ofexperts that included members of the American Institute of Architects, theU.S. Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the General ServicesAdministration, the National Park Service, the District of Columbia, the ExecutiveResidence Staff, the White House Office of Administration, and the Potomac ElectricPower Company. The team oversaw a comprehensive energy and environmentalaudit. In addition, the team participated in a greening design workshopthat produced recommendations to preserve the historical presence of the structureand maintain (or improve) comfort and productivity.

More information can be found regarding the history of the Greeningof the White House on the Center for Renewable Energy and SustainableTechnology Web site.

White House Upgrades

The White House upgrades represent an ongoing effort to cut wasteand improve energy efficiency throughout the complex (the ExecutiveResidence, the Old Executive Office Building [OEOB], and the White House Grounds).Since beginning the upgrades at the White House, similar upgrades havebeen made at other Federal facilities, including the Pentagon and buildings atthe Grand Canyon.

The Greening measures fit into seven categories:

  1. Building Envelope: A significant amount of energy is lostthrough the roof, windows, and walls of buildings, so those areas wereanalyzed for options to increase efficiency.

  2. Lighting: Energy-saving light bulbs were installedwhereverpossible, and steps were taken to ensure lights are turned off in rooms thatare not in use. Maximizing the use of natural light was a priority,because it's free and more visually pleasing.

  3. Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC):Measureswere sought to reduce the amount of energy used to heat and cool thebuildings while simultaneously increasing occupant comfort. Improvingindoor air quality and reducing the use of paint with volatile organiccompounds are also major goals.

  4. Plug Loads: Energy-saving office equipment wasinstalled, and refrigerators and coolers were replaced with moreenergy-efficient models.

  5. Waste: After analyzing the waste being generated, acomprehensive recycling program began for aluminum, glass, paper, newsprint,furniture, batteries, fluorescent lamps, paint solvents, and laser printercartridges. Organic yard waste is recycled at an off-site compostingfacility.

  6. Vehicles: Many leased vehicles accept cleaner-burningalternative fuels, and the White House is participating in a pilot program to testelectric vehicles. Also, many employees use public transportation todecrease the use of automobiles.

  7. Landscaping: Methods to reduce unnecessary water andpesticideuse and increase organic fertilizers on the grounds of the complexwere analyzed.

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