House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Majority Leader Steny H Hoyer (D-Maryland) announced they would begin a project to “green” the United States’ Capitol building. They hope greening the operations of the Capitol building complex will send a message about sustainable building’s importance.

“Buildings in the [United States] account for 39 percent of CO2 emissions and are a major contributor to global climate change,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, United States Green Building Council. “The good news is that green building reduces emissions by 30 to 50 percent.” With the international prominence of the U.S. Capitol building, the project could have more of an influence than the average building.

The preliminary greening of the Capitol report outlines a series of six recommendations in an effort to help the Capitol complex reduce its carbon footprint. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated the operations of the House as being responsible for 91,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions in fiscal year 2006—equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of 17,200 cars. The recommendations in the report include the following:

  • Operating the House in a carbon neutral manner 
  • Shifting to 100 percent renewable electric power 
  • Aggressively improving energy efficiency 
  • Adopting sustainable business practices 
  • Continuing leadership on sustainability issues 
  • Offsets to ensure carbon neutral operations

These recommendations are a first step in creating a green Capitol building. A final report will be issued on June 30 to provide a framework for guiding future decisions.    EC