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5 Ways the White House is Actually Green

5 Ways the White House is Actually Green

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may be best known as a white house, but itís actually quite green, as well. For a centuries-old house, itís certainly not as environmentally unfriendly as some would expect. Thanks to various eco initiatives, recent First Families are leading by example and showing how everyone can green their homes.

1.†Solar Panels

After years of discussing the improvements, this week, the Obama administration has begun to add solar panels †to the White House. Not only will the panels generate energy for the building, but the unnamed American company in charge of the project anticipates that the installation will pay for itself in just eight years thanks to a reduced electricity bill.

In truth, itís a return to solar panels for the nationís most famous address. President Jimmy Carter had some installed back in 1979, but when President Reagan took office the following term, he ordered them removed.

2. Smarter Drinking

Although avoiding disposable products altogether would be preferable, the White House has found a smarter approach for serving drinks.†First, the White House water fountains underwent alterations to more easily allow refills of water bottles, thus reducing waste. Then, after using all of the existing disposable cups purchased during the Bush administration, the Obama staff switched to biodegradable hot beverage cups composed of recycled materials. Additionally, they purchased environmentally-friendly PLA cups (made from plant-based materials) for residents and guests to hold cold drinks.

3. Composting

With Michelle Obamaís garden projects, the White House has a heightened need for soil. By instituting a composting program, the White House found a way to build a local supply by shipping dirt in from outside sources. Not only does composting on site reduce fuel usage, it also cuts down on food waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Thereís nothing like turning food scraps into new food!

4. The Benefits of Being Big and Old

Although the building is more than 200 years old and in need of technological advancements to fulfill a green mission, some of the White Houseís natural qualities make it ecologically sound. Constructed with unusually thick walls, the White House has great insulation, which cuts down on heating costs. Moreover, the buildingís signature large windows let in plenty of natural light, reducing the inhabitants’ need for electricity throughout the day.

5. Updating Existing Technologies

In honor of Earth Day, President Bill Clinton created a task force in the 90s to environmentally improve the White House. This resulted in several important changes: using energy-saving light bulbs, replacing refrigerators with energy-efficient models and test piloting electric vehicles on site. Although seemingly minor, given that most of these updates are in place, they add up to a lot of energy saved over the past 20 years.

Just as the White House is going green each year, our nation’s National Parks should continue to be protected as well. Sign this petition to protect national forests, monuments, and parks from fracking.


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Photo Credit: Sean Hayford O'Leary

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7:24AM PDT on Aug 31, 2013

thanks for sharing

9:42PM PDT on Aug 24, 2013

The White house maintenance had to remove the hot water heater panels to re-work the roof. The reality was, they were an expensive joke born by the taxpayer, The 80's vintage panels heated nothing most of the year and the cost of re-installing them would never pay back. A confusing fact for the Libs.

12:14PM PDT on Aug 21, 2013

That picture is shot through the fence,so that you can't see the bars put there to keep the ordinary people (you and me) out.

9:01PM PDT on Aug 20, 2013

If Republicans are allowed to steal the White House in 2016, those solar panels won't have a chance to pay for themselves in eight years. They'll be ripped off the roof ala Ronald Reagan. At least Reagan's henchmen waited until 1986, some five years after he first took office, to have them removed. You can bet the Republicans of today would be chomping at the bit to dismantle them as soon as possible after the inauguration.

4:59PM PDT on Aug 20, 2013

On one of the History Chanel shows, they talked about this very thing. I am impressed, even though there is much more that *could* be done. It is a great start, and a fine example!

2:26PM PDT on Aug 20, 2013

Great article. The composting strikes me as something that all the large estates in the UK and Us used in the past, and something most of us can do. Most of the rest are things that all of us can do in our homes, even if Rand Paul doesn't understand the science. And as far as those solar panels, Ronald Reagan's actions are a good reason to elect another Democrat next time. I heard those solar panels did good service for a couple of decades after they were taken off the White House. Just think of the money they would have saved over those years. Taxpayer money.

2:06PM PDT on Aug 20, 2013

It's interesting to learn that several presidents were involved in these "green" improvements.

12:31PM PDT on Aug 20, 2013

thank you for posting

11:59AM PDT on Aug 20, 2013

good news, tks

11:56AM PDT on Aug 20, 2013


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