In another step showing its commitment to environmental policies, this week the Obama Administration announced that solar panels were being installed on the roof of the White House. A White House official said:
“The retrofit will include the installation of energy-saving equipment, such as updated building controls and variable speed fans, as well as solar generation. The project will help demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy-efficiency upgrades”
The installation is great news for environmentalists and the solar industry alike, albeit long overdue. It was in October 2010 when Steven Chu, then Energy Secretary of the United States, announced the White House would be affixed with solar panels, and encouraged Americans to do the same with their homes or buildings. At that time, Chu stated that the White House solar panels would save the building approximately $2,300 per year in energy costs. While not a substantial amount, given the size of the building, the addition of renewable energy sources clearly has an impact.
And of course, the Obama Administration didn’t opt for the least expensive solar panels – according to the White House’s official statement, the panels and installation crew were both American.
The new solar panel installation also sends a clear message about retrofitting: even old buildings can (and should) support solar panels.
The funny thing is, the White House was actually equipped with solar panels during Jimmy Carter’s presidency in 1979, but they were later removed by Reagan in ’86.
The solar panels aren’t the first eco friendly initiative the Obama have led since taking residence in the White House. The First Lady planted a chemical-free (but not quite organic) vegetable garden on the grounds, and there is also now an official White House bee hive that last year produced 175 pounds of honey.
Hopefully there will be more environmental retrofits coming to the White House before the end of Obama’s presidency.