White House Installs Three Solar Energy Systems

April 30, 2003

Three new solar electric systems have recently been deployed on the grounds of the White House. The National Park Service (NPS), which manages the grounds and other elements of the White House complex, installed a 9-kilowatt, rooftop solar electric (photovoltaic) system, as well as a solar thermal system that provides domestic hot water for the complex's maintenance building. In addition, a solar thermal system was installed on the roof of the swimming pool cabana.

During August 2002, the White House had 167 photovoltaic panels (EC-51 watt modules) installed on the roof of the NPS grounds maintenance building on the southwest corner of the White House grounds. Three 2,500-watt Sunny Boy inverters convert the DC electricity into AC power which is fed into the White House grounds distribution system, supplementing the complex's power supply and providing electricity wherever it is needed. The American-made solar panels were manufactured by Evergreen Solar, Inc. of Marlborough, Massachusetts. A residential-scale solar water heating system for domestic hot water was positioned on an adjoining roof section of the maintenance building. This system, comprised of a 4x8 foot-flat-plate collector, manufactured by SunEarth, Inc. of Ontario, California, was installed using a typical stand-off mount in a drain-back configuration. The third project is a five-panel, building-integrated solar hot water system on the White House cabana next to the swimming pool. This system is integrated into a lead-coated, standing seam copper roof. The inset design of the panels provides a relatively flush profile. The hot water produced by the solar-water system provides domestic hot water for the cabana, with all of the extra energy going into the outdoor pool. The absorber plates for these panels were made by SunEarth, but the rest of the system was site-manufactured to improve integration with the roof.

The NPS, which administers portions of the White House complex, worked with Solar Design Associates, a Boston-based firm, to install the systems. "We believe in these technologies, and they've been working for us very successfully," said James Doherty, the architect and project manager at the NPS 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." John Howard, the Federal Environmental Executive, said "Installing solar panels at the White House is yet another example of President Bush's personal stewardship commitment."

For more information, please contact James Doherty of NPS at jim_doherty@nps.gov.