a critical initiative to address energy conservation, efficiency and cost savings for the U.S. Capitol and congressional office buildings
The House of Representatives should provide leadership to the nation in providing an environmentally responsible and healthy working environment for our employees.
Well, the Preliminary Report: Green the Capitol Initiative is out … and the initiative is real … the House will be providing leadership. Pelosi and the Democrats intend for the House to walk the walk when it comes to a new way forward for a sustainable and prosperous energy future.
“The environmental challenges we face are as local as our neighborhoods and as global as our planet. The House must lead by example and it is time for Congress to act on its own carbon footprint. Today, we announce our intention to operate the House in a carbon neutral manner at the earliest possible date with a deadline of the end of this Congress.” Speaker Pelosi, 19 April 2007
What are core recommendations in the CAO’s preliminary report:
- Operate the House in a Carbon Neutral Manner
- Shift to 100 Renewable Electric Power
- Aggressively Improve Energy Efficiency
- Adopt Sustainable Business Practices
- Continued Leadership on Sustainability Issues
- Offsets to ensure Carbon Neutral Operations
What do some of these mean and what are the numbers?
- Renewable Power: Today, the House’s electricity comes from a mix that is composed of 61% coal/gas, 37% nuclear, and 2% renewable power. Shifting to 100% renewable/nuclear will cut the House’s carbon footprint by 57,000 tons per year.
- Aggressively Improve Energy Efficiency: For example, 100% of the House’s light bulbs will be changed over the next six months to compact-flourescents and other other energy efficient lights. (Have to wonder whether Joe Barton’s office will have CFLs …) And, the report recommends that Energy Star/Federal Energy Management Program designated products be required for purchases. There will also be a longer term look at revamping the huge — and aged — Capitol steam-heat system.
- Symbolic Leadership/Education: CAO recommends actions that have symbolic more than direct impact as well. For example, buying furnishings of recycled/sustainable forest products; holidng a Green Expo; and establishing an education program for House employees.
- Offset Program: The report calls for a serious review of carbon credit programs to find a path for offsetting roughly 34,000 tons of carbon emissions from the Capitol Power Plant.
This is a clear step that the House leadership is seeking to walk-the-walk when it comes to how Congress conducts its business.
Will the Senate follow the House’s leadership?