Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and president of USGBC, is offering up his expertise to help the White House achieve certification. “LEED certification of the White House is absolutely possible and viable,” Fedrizzi says. Although such an important structure will definitely make a historic renovation more challenging than any other building. “A normal building is already a challenging assignment, and this is something that’s a historic structure, one of [the] nation’s most historic structures,” he says. Windowpanes, which are typically replaced to improve the efficiency of the building’s envelope, will not be able to be replaced at the White House because of their historic glazing. Instead alternatives like window films will have to be explored for higher efficiency. Also the heightened security of the compound will add complexity to the certification process.
Otherwise the staff is looking into making improvements into the procurement policies, aiming to consider toxicity and life cycles when making purchases. They’ll buy biodegradable cleaners, recycled content products, and low VOC paints. The Council on Environmental Quality is looking into ways to reduce energy use through energy management, more efficient heating, cooling and ventilation systems, and automatic light sensors. They will also upgrade to low flow water fixtures and get rid of cooling equipment that contains ozone damaging chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Additionally, staff will be educated and trained to use recycled content whenever possible as well as to reduce the waste stream.
Green endeavors have been undertaken in the past, some by none-the-less John Picard, credited to have been the first to green the White House. This time, though, the spirit is behind the effort and while the WASPI intelligentia is attempting to demonize the efforts of our President to bring this country to the brink of humanity, quietly, in the background, progress is unstoppable. “We didn’t come here to fear the future, we came here to shape it”, says Obama in his recent address to Congress. And by all means, shaping is happening right now.
Credits: Inhabitat, National Geographic, CNN