The Architect of the Capitol’s Legacy of Sustainability began with the setting of the Capitol’s cornerstone in 1793, and has continued that tradition to today.
The AOC, in its service to the Congress and the American people has worked to reduce energy and water consumption across the Capitol campus in order to help save taxpayer money. One of our biggest challenges is ensuring that we preserve the historic elements of these iconic buildings, while at the same time making them as energy efficient as possible. That’s why the Architect of the Capitol is committed to using sustainable practices whether we’re building a new facility or maintaining one that’s over 200 years old, such as the U.S. Capitol Building.
During the energy crisis of the 1970s, the AOC developed its “Program for the Energy Conservation and Management for the United States Capitol Complex Buildings,” which proposed the concept for the Program for Energy Conservation (PEC). The purpose of PEC was to investigate and implement measures for energy conservation. With Congress’s support, a pilot program was launched to test a number of initiatives before implementing them campus-wide. Some of the strategies executed included developing an automated energy management and control system to achieve specific efficiencies in the operation of mechanical and electrical systems. These programs and progress were incremental in the accomplishment of our current goals. By the early 1980s, the automated system had proven itself – it was expanded and refined to other Congressional office buildings.
Since 1992, AOC’s Energy Management Control System produced significant energy savings annually. Over the years, AOC expanded its efforts from a pilot program to a campus-wide effort. In the late 1990s, AOC completed a campus-wide lighting upgrade, replacing more than one-half million fluorescent lamps and ballasts resulting in a savings of more than $1.5 million annually. These lighting upgrades continue today with current re-lamping programs and comprehensive lighting fixture ballast replacements in selected buildings.
Transportation is one of the leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and poor air quality. In 2008 the AOC’s ethanol fueling station opened for flex-fuel vehicles in the Legislative Branch agencies’ official fleets showing that the AOC is continually finding ways to carry-on its legacy of sustainability through waste-eliminating initiatives, increased efficiency, ongoing preservation, and improved implementation.
In 2009, the AOC began retiring the original Energy Management Control System, replacing it with a new advanced direct digital control system. This system is more accurate and reliable than existing systems, and can result in annual operational energy savings of more than 15 percent.
Today, Energy Savings Performance Contracts, private-public partnerships, enable AOC to undertake energy savings project with minimal up-front investment. Project work funded by these contracts includes installing energy-efficient light fixtures, converting water fixtures to low-flow units, and modernizing Building Automation Systems.
As a result of these efforts and others, the AOC’s energy reduction efforts have yielded great results. In Fiscal Year 2010, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) goal was exceeded by reducing energy consumption 17 percent, beating the Fiscal Year 2010 requirement of a 15 percent reduction.
“Saving energy saves money,” Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers, AIA, LEED AP. “All efforts – both large and small – are making a big impact. We are committed to our legacy of sustainability to ensure this Capitol continues to stand for generations to come.”