In 2003, solar photovoltaic panels were installed at the White House. Two smaller solar thermal systems were also installed to heat water: one for landscape maintenance personnel, the other for the presidential pool and spa.
The Reagan Administration had ordered a previous set of solar thermal panels removed in the 1980s (the Carter Administration had installed the first set).
The Park Service, who oversees White House maintenance, decided to install a new set of solar panels on a maintenance building adjacent to the main house because as James Doherty, an architect with the National Park Service told Environmental Building News in 2003, “we are always looking for opportunities to promote renewable energy and sustainable design and we decided to take advantage of this next opportunity to pursue that mission at the White House.”
Although the White House has never revealed (for security reasons) how much energy each system generates, it acknowledges the system is modest and more a symbol of the Park Service’s commitment to renewable energy than an all-out power system. The Bush Administration itself never really announced the project. Instead the installation was completed “under the radar;” industry trade journals were the media that picked up the story.
We, at Cooler Planet, decided to remind people of these national panels because we hope that the next Administration furthers these solar efforts – replete with lots of fanfare.