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Legacy of Sustainability

The Architect of the Capitol's Legacy of Sustainability began with the setting of the U.S. Capitol's cornerstone in 1793, and has continued that tradition to today.

The AOC, in its service to the Congress and the American people works 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 more than 200 years old, such as the U.S. Capitol.

During the energy crisis of the 1970s, the AOC developed the concept for the Program for Energy Conservation (PEC). The purpose of the PEC was to investigate and implement measures for energy conservation. With Congress' support, a pilot program was launched before implementing it campus-wide. Some of the strategies included an automated energy management and control system to achieve efficiencies in the operation of mechanical and electrical systems. By the early 1980s, the automated system proved itself and was expanded and refined to other Congressional office buildings.

Since 1992, the AOC's Energy Management Control System produced significant energy savings annually and over the years, the AOC expanded its efforts. In the late 1990s, the 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.

Today, Energy Savings Performance Contracts as private-public partnerships, enable the 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 yield great results. Since 2005, the agency has invested more than $90 million in infrastructure upgrades and identified $80 million in energy savings.