US Capitol get greener

The Hill’s alive with the sound of greening. Or at least, it should be, as soon as our representatives start following through with their “Green the Capitol” initiative, the final report on which was released yesterday in Washington, D.C.

The report is the result of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s call for an energy audit of the Capitol complex four months ago, right after she first assumed her new post. Yesterday’s report presents the findings of the audit as well as a comprehensive plan to improve the green cred of the Hill.

It includes directives to start purchasing electricity generated from renewable sources, install more-efficient lighting, cut out the coal used at the power plant that provides energy for the Hill, and transition to hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles for all government automobiles. Over the next 18 months, they plan to make U.S. Capitol and congressional office buildings “carbon neutral,” and over the next ten years, they plan to cut the House’s energy use in half.

Last year, the House of Representatives alone was responsible for 91,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. If they follow through with all the plans, they could cut their emissions by two-thirds, and would offset all the rest. They’re putting a nice chuck of change behind the greening efforts — $95,000 for the carbon offsets, $520,000 for renewable energy, and $2.75 million to update the power plant — but I guess those figures pale in comparison to things like, say … the defense budget.

“Global warming and climate change are formidable issues that the entire world is confronting, and the United States Congress must lead by example,” said Pelosi in statement issued yesterday morning. “This plan is an essential first step, because it not only will make the House a better place to work and live near, but it will also make our institution a model — one that cares about what kind of planet our children will inherit.”

Check out the full report here (PDF).