Greening The White House

Leading through example

One of the articles in The Ecology Of Justice (IC#38)
Originally published in Spring 1994 on page 9
Copyright (c)1994, 1997 by Context Institute

After nearly a year of work, the White House has released a first-phase plan of action for "Greening the White House." The plan outlines immediate actions to be taken in five categories:

  • Energy Efficiency – including reglazing single pane windows and upgrading lighting;
  • Building Ecology – including adoption of "green" buying standards and reducing the use of volatile organic compounds to improve indoor air quality;
  • Air, Water, and Landscape – including revising landscaping techniques to optimize water use, maximizing the use of organic fertilizers and pest controls;
  • Materials, Waste and Resource Management – includes intensifying recycling programs, making special events "green," demonstrating good hazardous waste storage and management;
  • Managerial and Human Factors – includes establishing an energy and environmental management policy.

The planning effort grew out of President Clinton’s 1993 Earth Day address in which he announced that he wanted to make the White House a model of efficiency and waste reduction.

"Before I ask you to do the best you can in your house, I ought to make sure I’m doing the best I can in my house," the President said.

The planning process began with an environmental audit of the White House complex. Then the American Institute of Architects coordinated a study of options for improving the environmental performance of the complex.

The AIA assembled a multi-disciplinary team of the nations’ leading experts in environmental concerns relating to the built environment (among them Context Institute director Robert Gilman) and the team set about planning the first phase of White House greening.

Plans for Phases II to IV, which are still being developed, will include demonstration projects, some of which will require extensive redesign and congressional funding.

Because it focuses on the White House as America’s symbolic home, the "Greening the White House" project provides a special opportunity to demonstrate technological advances, social progress, and environmental responsibility.

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