Putting our own house in order is a good first first step in the long path towards sustainability, so it was great to hear that the U.S. House of Representatives has unveiled a plan to become carbon neutral by the end of its current term. Legislation has also been introduced to make the entire Capitol complex- all 23 buildings- carbon neutral by the end of 2020. The plan was delivered to the speaker by the Chief Administrative Officer at the end of June. Known as the “Greening the Capitol” report, the plan outlines a series of steps that the House must take in order to become carbon neutral as well as future goals to become a model of sustainability.
The first goal, that of carbon neutrality for the current House of Representatives, is to be met by purchasing all electricity via renewable energy sources, using natural gas for heating, and buying carbon offsets. Recognizing that carbon offsets are not the entire solution, the report outlines further measures to reduce the current energy use by 50% by measures such as the installation of energy efficient lighting, upgrading of all heating and cooling mechanisms, and the redesign and upgrading of all electrical equipment. Also on the list: redesigning the century-old coal power plant that currently provides hot water and heating to the capitol complex, to bring it to green standards.
Reducing energy usage is not all that is covered in the report, as it also calls for the use of non-toxic cleaning products, increasing water conservation, and significantly improving recycling, improving access to mass transit and car sharing for employees, changing the current fleet to hybrid vehicles, purchase locally and organically sourced food, changing to 100% recycled paper, and even implementing a bike-to-work program.
“Global warming and climate change are formidable issues that the entire world is confronting, and the United States Congress must lead by example,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “This plan is an essential first step.” (U.S Congress photo by l’ennui d’ennui)