EcoMall

SOLAR ENERGY IS BACK
AT THE WHITE HOUSE

Special Editor's Note from the EcoMall: In 1980, the Reagan administration removed perfectly good, working solar thermal panels from the White House (these same solar collectors are still working at Unity College in Unity, Maine). The EcoMall spearheaded the Proposal to Solarize the White House, forming "The Solar Campaign" with other solar energy advocates, and posted an alert at our site asking our visitors to e-mail The White House urging them to use renewable energy technologies on the White House grounds. We are happy to report that 23 years after the previous solar panels were removed, two solar thermal systems and a 9 kW photovoltaic (PV) solar electricity system have returned to the White House.

Since September 2002, a grid of 167 solar panels on the roof of a maintenance shed has been delivering electricity to the White House grounds. Another solar installation has been helping to provide hot water. Yet another has been heating the water in the presidential pool.

The impetus behind implementing the solar roof was that a roof on the White House grounds had to be replaced anyway, and it made economical as well as environmental sense to incorporate solar energy. It was time to replace the roof on what is called "The Pony Shed", a maintenance building that replaced the stable that once housed Macaroni, a pony owned by President Kennedy's daughter, Caroline.

It was actually the National Park Service's decision to utilize a solar energy system on the White House grounds, similar to other solar installations made by the Park Service throughout the country. The Park Service, which is responsible for the building, had already mandated that any refurbishments of its facilities should incorporate environmentally-friendly design whenever possible.

Other sources: The New York Times


Jan. 8, 2003--Evergreen Solar, Inc. today announced the installation of a 9 kW photovoltaic (PV) system at the White House for the National Park Service.

The new solar roof in Washington, D.C. is the first solar electric project on the White House grounds.

James Doherty, the architect and project manager at the National Park Service Office for White House Liaison, said, "We believe in these technologies, and they've been working for us very successfully. The National Park Service as a whole has long been interested in both sustainable design and renewable energy sources. We also have a mission to lower our energy consumption at all our sites, and we saw an opportunity to do both at the White House grounds."

"The Park Service is supporting the use of clean, renewable energy from the sun by overseeing this installation. It's an important milestone in building awareness for solar energy usage in residential and commercial buildings, and a step in the right direction in promoting energy independence," said Steven J. Strong, President of Solar Design Associates and an internationally noted solar advocate. "Sustainable, environmentally responsive solar electric systems have been in use from Maine to California for three decades, but there is something special about an installation at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

Solar Design Associates designed and oversaw the installation, which was placed on the roof of the main building used for White House grounds maintenance. The PV system directly feeds solar-generated power into the White House grounds' distribution system, providing electricity wherever it is needed. Two solar thermal systems, one to heat the pool and spa and one to provide domestic hot water, were also installed.

The grid-tied PV system consists of 167 solar panels manufactured by Evergreen Solar that cover the roof of the maintenance facility. The entire system installation was completed over a three-day period and includes a data acquisition system for monitoring the performance of the array and its ancillary electronic components.

Solar Design Associates selected Evergreen Solar to supply the PV panels for the project due to the superior quality of the panels and the fact that they were made in America. Mr. Strong remarked, "Evergreen Solar is the classic, home-grown success story, where a small group of dedicated individuals, starting from modest beginnings in a 'garage,' proved the commercial viability of their technology, and subsequently have become a significant player in the global solar market."

"We are very pleased to see this kind of governmental support for solar electricity. Evergreen Solar's panels were chosen for this installation by Steven Strong, one of the world's most respected solar designers and a true pioneer in the industry," commented Mark A. Farber, President and Chief Executive Officer of Evergreen Solar. "We hope the success of this project will spur future applications of highly reliable, pollution-free solar power. Whether it is on a single residence or a commercial building, solar electricity is an important option in the quest for energy independence."

Written by: Evergreen Solar


White House Turns Up Heat With Solar Energy at Spa

With little fanfare, the Bush administration has installed three solarenergy systems on the grounds of the White House.

It happened last August, when, over the course of three days, the WhiteHouse had 167 solar energy panels placed atop a maintenance buildingoutside the residence. On two other buildings -- an adjoiningmaintenance building and the president's cabana -- systems wereinstalled that will help heat the water for, among other uses, thepresidential pool and spa.

None of the solar energy systems are visible from the street -- youwould have to climb to near the top of the adjacent Eisenhower ExecutiveOffice Building to see them. The systems were designed by Solar DesignAssociates of Massachusetts.

The White House and the National Park Service, which oversee theprojects, could not say how much power the systems are generating -- orhow much money they are saving the public. But the Park Service and theSolar Energy Industries Association, a trade association, agreed theprojects are small.

With Washington's climate and the pitch of the building roofs consideredless than ideal, the output of any system would be limited, said one ofthe project's managers.

"I think the symbolic nature of this exceeds the actual kilowattsproduced," said SEIA spokesman Michael Paranzino.

That was probably the case during the energy crisis of the 1970s, whenPresident Jimmy Carter donned a sweater, turned down his thermostat --and had a solar-powered water system installed. It was later removed byPresident Ronald Reagan, who shipped the panels off to Unity College inMaine, where they still heat the water for the school's cafeteria.

But if the new systems are primarily symbolic, no one, it seems, hastold the White House. President Bush, who uses solar power on his ranchin Texas, has yet to trumpet the little-noticed panels, as evidence,perhaps, of his support for renewable energy.

A spokeswoman for the White House said the administration considered thechanges an internal matter that it did not need to publicize.

Written By: Brian Faler, Special to The Washington Post, Monday, February 3, 2003; Page A21


Solar at the White House

Solar energy has returned to the White House complex. While the White House has kept pretty quiet about it, three solar installations were completed last summer on White House buildings and are now generating renewable power and hot water. Here are the details:

Solar hot water panels on roof
White House cabana showing flush-mount solar water heating system.
Installing the solar panels
Photos: Evergreen Solar, Inc.

Installing PV panels on a National Park Service maintenance building at the White House.

In July and August, three solar energy systems, designed by Steven Strong of Solar Design Associates in Harvard, Massachusetts, were installed on two separate White House buildings. The first of these, a large 8.75 peak-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system, was installed on the National Park Service maintenance building located in the southwest corner of the 16-acre (6.5 ha) White House grounds. This system consists of 167 EC-51 PV modules, each rated at 51 watts, manufactured by Evergreen Solar of Marlboro, Massachusetts. Three 2,500-watt Sunny Boy inverters, provided by SMA Americas (a division of the German manufacturer SMA), convert this DC electricity into AC power that is fed into the White House electricity grid.

On the same building, a residential-scale solar water heating system was installed to provide hot water for landscape maintenance personnel. This system is comprised of two 4' x 8' (1.2 x 2.4 m) flat-plate collectors made by SunEarth, Inc., of Ontario, California. These panels were installed using a typical stand-off mount in a drain-back configuration (for more on solar water heating.

The third installation is a five-panel, building-integrated solar hot water system on the White House cabana next to the presidential pool and spa. This system is integrated into a terne-coated, standing-seam copper roof. The inset design of the panels provides a relatively flush profile (see photo). Hot water produced by this system heats a hot tub and shower, with any extra energy going into the outdoor pool. The absorber plates for these panels were made by SunEarth, but the rest of the system was site-manufactured for better integration with the roof.

The PV system installation (by Aurora Energy of Annapolis, Maryland) went extremely well, according to Dr. Rex D'Agostino, Vice-President of Marketing and Sales at Evergreen. All three systems were completed and commissioned before Labor Day, and are believed to be working very well, according to D'Agostino. Performance data from the PV system is being collected, but Evergreen Solar has not yet seen it.

Working with the Park Service went very smoothly, according to Steven Strong. "They set up a brisk schedule involving many different operations and kept things moving," he told EBN. "Despite the logistical challenges, we were done a week early."

James Doherty, an architect with the National Park Service White House Liaison Office, managed the solar installations. "We're very happy with the product and how it's working for us," Doherty told EBN. The Park Service is always looking for opportunities to promote renewable energy and sustainable design, according to Doherty, and a few years ago they decided to take advantage of the next opportunity available to "pursue that mission" at the White House.

Doherty admits that the maintenance building isn't an ideal candidate for solar, since it is intentionally somewhat hidden by trees. He worked with Strong to identify the largest surface area available for the PV installation. He estimates that "the PV array to date has only generated slightly in excess of 1,000 kilowatt-hours." The system was designed so that even if the building has to be partially rebuilt or reroofed, the PV system can be removed and reinstalled, according to Doherty.

When asked why there hasn't been a bigger splash made about these installations, Doherty said that the Park Service doesn't like to advertise what it does at the White House. "We call it 'silent stewardship,'" he said. "We have always sought to stay in the background and not compete with what the White House does."

Strong considers it a privilege to have been asked to design and install solar systems at the White House. "Each solar roof is another small but important step toward greater energy self-reliance," he told EBN. "I would hope that these installations will lead to a broader acceptance of solar energy as a way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil." - AW

Written by: Environmental Building News, by Alex Wilson


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