GREEN PIECE: White House with a green roof

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First Posted: 8/19/2013

The White House is finally getting a much-needed makeover this week that has been in the making for almost three years. Last week, the Obama administration began installing solar panels on the roof of the White House.

While the new addition is supposed to be hush-hush, the Washington Post picked up some information from an anonymous White House official who stated that the installation of the solar panels is in process. The anonymous source also told the Washington Post that the project is “part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building.”

President Obama and his administration pledged in October 2010 to put solar panels on the White House as a sign of the president’s commitment to renewable energy. Former Energy Secretary Steven Chu and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley spearheaded the task with hopes to demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency upgrades.

In 2010, Chu said, “This project reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in solar energy and the jobs it will create here at home. Deploying solar energy technologies across the country will help America lead the global economy for years to come.”

This isn’t the first time the White House has sported solar panels. Back in the late 1970s, President Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar panels for hot water. Sadly, Ronald Reagan had them taken down when he became president. To everyone’s surprise, President George W. Bush installed a few solar panels in 2003 to heat the White House swimming pool.

Several grassroots campaigns, including, lobbied Obama at the start of his first term to restore the solar panels to the White House. Bill McKibben of told the Washington Post that the installation is better late than never.

“In truth, no one should ever have taken down the panels Jimmy Carter put on the roof way back in 1979,” said McKibben. “But it’s very good to know that once again the country’s most powerful address will be drawing some of that power from the sun.”

Once an expensive idea, the price of solar panels has now dropped 97 percent due to improvements in technology. According to Rhone Resch of the Solar Energy Industries Association, the solar industry alone employs more than 120,000 people and generates electricity to power over 1.3 million homes in America.

The Obama administration has taken great interest in showing their concern for the environment. Since President Obama has been in office, the administration has doubled the number of hybrid cars and trucks in the federal fleet and increased the government’s use of renewable energy to seven percent.

This is an exciting step for the White House and sets a great example that hopefully others will follow!