The Bush administration has installed the first-ever solar electric system on the grounds of the White House. The National Park Service, which manages the White House complex, installed a nine kilowatt, rooftop solar electric or photovoltaic system, as well as two solar thermal systems that heat water used on the premises.

"We believe in these technologies, and they've been working for us very successfully," said James Doherty, the architect and project manager at the National Park Service Office for White House Liaison. "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."

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 feeds solar generated power into the White House grounds' distribution system, providing electricity wherever it is needed.

"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. "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."

The company selected Evergreen Solar, Inc. to supply the 167 American made solar electric panels that were placed on the roof of the main building used for White House grounds maintenance.

"We are very pleased to see this kind of governmental support for solar electricity," said Mark 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."

Two solar thermal systems, one to heat the pool and spa and one to provide domestic hot water, were also installed. While the White House has been home to a solar thermal system in the past, this is the first solar electric system to operate at the White House complex.

"With solar systems popping up on homes, businesses and farms across the country, it's most appropriate to have solar providing energy for America's most recognizable home," said Glenn Hamer, executive director at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). "The White House is now a mini power plant producing clean, reliable solar energy thanks to the excellent team of Solar Design Associates and Evergreen Solar."
Provided by theEnvironmental News Service.