by , 07/09/07

Capitol Power Plant, power plant, carbon power plant, United Stated, Washington, House of Representatives, Capitol, Greening the Capitol

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)

+ CAO Initiative: Green the Capitol
+ A Carbon-Neutral House? @ Washington Post

+ Dem leaders embrace ‘Greening the Capitol’ report @The Hill

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  3. Harry Martinian July 10, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    When Congress aims for “Carbon Nuetrality” we should all be concerned how much “Green Washing” this is all about.
    Ancient design principles that are being ignored for issues that have primarilary to do with the materials of construction. Carbon Nuetrality should be balanced with design and orientation of buildings. There are issues that transcend what a building is made of alone.

    Archetecture is a national problem, a public health issue. Today a growing concern is being explored about the buildings that create a great deal of suffering, anxiety, sickness, and negativity amongst members of families due to the wrong orientation of their house. This is the evolution of what had been popularized as “Sick Building Syndrome”.

    Programs to reconstruct homes and working places of all the people of the world may be very necessary for the peace and happiness of every family. This is not a time for half measure.

    For the same reason government buildings have also to be rebuilt in every country. It is perhaps more than what a building is made of theat we need to be concerned with.

    More information on this topic can be found at http://www.gfcny.net/video/ scroll down to the video on the date and topic:

    June 15, 2007 Building Fortune-Creating Homes and Workplaces:
    A Unified Field Based Approach to Architecture

  4. A Practical Shift to Gr... July 10, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    […] to the people at Inhabitat, the U.S. House of Representatives has unveiled a plan to become carbon neutral by the end of its […]

  5. mind July 10, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    hey congress! you were elected to get the neocons out of office! fix that problem first!

  6. Broomhuggers » A ... July 10, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    […] Inhabitat clued us in that the US Congress plans to go carbon neutral by the end of the current term! […]

  7. GREENIRVANA » U.S... July 10, 2007 at 2:38 pm

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  8. D July 10, 2007 at 11:03 am

    Maybe this means they are all going to hold their breaths in unison. I thought they warmed the capital building with their own breath.

  9. Ethan July 10, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Congress buying renewable energy credits is also a bit of a joke, since as I see it, the main purpose of renewable energy credits is to support a technology/industry that lacks the government support it needs to overcome economies of scale, technology issues, etc. Does anybody else see the irony here???

  10. maina July 10, 2007 at 10:21 am

    This doed me think on Al Gore with his three monitors: http://zonow.com/56

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  12. Stephen has a blog &raq... July 10, 2007 at 5:29 am

    […] Inhabitat » U.S. CONGRESS TO BECOME CARBON NEUTRAL This is a start… entire Capitol complex to become carbon neutral though improvements and carbon offsets. (tags: environment) […]

  13. hunter July 10, 2007 at 3:56 am

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not impressed. While I fully support the use of renewable resources for energy, carbon credits are a joke. If you want to spearhead/advocate/lead a real change then by all means, please do so. But the sooner we come up with a real solution, the better. Until then, carbon credits are just another ‘feel-good’ answer to a complicated worldwide problem. Not that the idea is bad, just that it will ultimately make no difference.

  14. Athodyd July 9, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    I am one who’s encouraged by it. True, policy & such needs to be pursued, enacted, and applied, but it is not a joke that EVERYTHING, EVERYBODY needs to respond to the crisis.Too, in some humorous way it’s good to see them doing something tangible.

  15. Pete July 9, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    By 2020? Someone better tell them to slow down otherwise there might be heart attacks.

  16. Deanna July 9, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Great news but will it really take that long to do??

  17. Deanna July 9, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Great news, but will it really have to take until the year 2020 to do so???

  18. Ethan July 9, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    Isn’t this just proof that the surge in “environmental action” is more about asthetics than anything else? When a single houseHOLD takes the initiative to “become carbon neutral” that’s one thing– they’re acting within the venue they have the most control over. They make household policy since they can’t make national policy. But the House of Representatives? It seems utterly rediculous to be coming together over a plan such as this when they could be hashing out real, nation/Earth saving policy. A capital should not be judged “green” by the sustainability of the physical processes going on within it, no, it should be judged green by the POLICY it puts out.

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