The Architect of the Capitol is committed to reducing energy consumption through several sustainability Initiatives.
Architect of the Capitol Design Standards
Constructing and renovating facilities to extend their life spans is consistent with the Architect of the Capitol’s entrusted stewardship responsibilities. To do this, the AOC develops and maintains design standards applicable to the Capitol complex’s buildings and grounds that heightens commercial practices and institutional standards for the Capitol.
The Architect of the Capitol Design Standards, addresses sustainable design and stresses that projects shall be designed to conserve energy resources, improve environmental performance and increase the use of environmentally preferable products. In 2007, specific sections of the design standards were revised to reflect strategic environmental investment opportunities and to include comprehensive energy models for design. To keep up with state-of-the-art technologies and practices, the design standards are regularly reviewed and updated. To the extent practicable, projects should follow Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building principles for a Silver rating. As federal guidelines and industry standards change, the AOC’s design standards continue to evolve.
Sustainability Framework Plan
The Architect of the Capitol developed a Sustainability Framework Plan – part of the proposed Capitol Complex Master Plan – a plan that includes best practice management strategies and goals that are consistent with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The AOC tracks its progress toward these goals and continuously evaluates energy and environmental performance to increase sustainability and environmental impact to the Capitol.
Implementation of sustainable practices under the energy management program has resulted in a reduction of total energy and water consumption, less waste in landfills, more materials reused or repurposed and increased recycling. Achievements include:
- Adjusted the U.S. Capitol Power Plant’s fuel mixtures to use natural gas as the primary fuel source to meet the Capitol steam demands. The plant is being operated by digital controls installed in 2009 on its largest steam boilers. In addition, new steam auxiliary equipment has been installed to improve system reliability.
- Reduced storm water runoff at the U.S. Botanic Garden in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. The runoff from the eastern portion of the Conservatory roof takes rain water, slows it down, spreads it out and allows it to soak into the “rain garden.” This first phase of the new gardens is located on the east side of the Conservatory.
- Completed Rayburn cafeteria control, daylight harvesting and LED light installation.
The Architect of the Capitol has a long-standing commitment to recycling. To improve performance, the AOC sought to increase office waste recycling by five percent and non-office (e.g., industrial) waste recycling by three percent from FY 2005 levels within three years. The AOC recycled 738 tons of non-office waste in FY 2008, which is a 45 percent increase over FY 2005 levels, far exceeding the targeted three percent. Since FY 2006, the AOC has recycled 100 percent of all its computer and electronic waste annually, including monitors, computers, printers and other hardware.
In 2009, the Architect of the Capitol further strengthened its recycling program with the adoption of new goals and metrics to ensure increased recycling on the Capitol through FY 2013. New measures include recycling new sources of waste, including tracking wastes from construction and demolition sites under contract and landscaping areas.
The current target is to increase the recycling rate by three percent by FY 2013 over FY 2008/FY 2009 levels.
Biobased products are composed wholly or in significant part of biological products, including renewable agricultural materials (e.g., plant, animal and marine materials) or forestry materials made from plants (e.g., corn and soybeans) and help to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Architect of the Capitol staff at the House and Senate office buildings have switched to using a vegetable-based hydraulic fluid in some of their operations. This environmentally friendly fluid, which is a biodegradable, nontoxic and renewable resource, is now being used in some elevators and trash bailers throughout the Capitol campus.
By switching to biobased products, the Architect of the Capitol is helping to protect the environment, while continuing to maintain a high level of service to Congress and the Supreme Court.
Transition to Cleaner Fuels
The Architect of the Capitol transitioned to cleaner fuels by replacing many of its aging fleet vehicles with those that use Ethanol 85 fuel. To date, there are approximately 60 alternate-fuel vehicles in the AOC’s fleet – a 30% increase from 2009. They also installed an Ethanol 85 pump that is used by flex-fuel vehicles in other Legislative Branch agencies’ official fleets. In addition, shuttle buses use B20 Biodiesel fuel. The boilers at the Capitol Power Plant have adjusted fuel mixtures to use natural gas as its primary fuel source.
Capitol Power Plant Energy Saving Initiatives
The Capitol Power Plant provides centralized utility services not available from other sources to Capitol facilities, and serves a critical role in generating steam for heating and chilled water for cooling facilities across the Capitol campus. From the time the Capitol Power Plant began operating, the Architect of the Capitol has worked to balance the needs of the Capitol with the Capitol Power Plant’s production of steam and chilled water. This opportunity has allowed the AOC to refine the Capitol Power Plant’s operations to respond to the needs of the facilities and improve the efficiency of heating and cooling.
To meet long-term cooling needs, the Architect of the Capitol has developed a multi-phase modernization project to replace aging chillers, address structural concerns of the original West Refrigeration Plant and provide additional refrigeration capacity to the Capitol campus. The project includes providing greater efficiency by relocating existing chillers from the East Refrigeration Plant to the new expansion at the West Refrigeration Plant and by replacing existing chillers with new energy-efficient ones.
After careful review of the environmental impact of a range of energy-producing technologies, the AOC selected on-site power generation known as cogeneration to increase the efficiency of the Capitol Power Plant. Cogeneration is the use of a heat engine or power station to generate both electricity and useful heat simultaneously. It is one of the most common forms of energy recycling.
The Architect of the Capitol continues to meet the annual energy reductions specified by Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. With facility space totaling 17.4 million square feet and more than 460 acres of land, the AOC has the opportunity to demonstrate leadership within the facilities it administers.
The Architect of the Capitol’s strategies for energy reduction include implementing alternative technologies and sequencing projects and identifying low cost or no cost initiatives. These small-scale projects are used to test strategies and provide opportunities that extend across jurisdictions. Some of these include:
- Senate Energy and Environmental Showcase to educate the Senate staff on reduce, reuse and recycle actions that they can do in their offices,
- Installing lighting motion sensors and curtailment program,
- Ongoing heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls program to upgrade to newer technology as units are replaced to convert constant air volume systems to variable air volume systems,
- Installation of dimmable ballast systems with daylight and occupancy sensors in overhead lighting to maintain consistent lighting levels in each office,
- Replacing incandescent light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lamps for energy savings,
- Making occupancy sensor light switches available for offices, conference rooms and committee rooms upon request,
- Installing motion sensor installation and low-flow devices for water conservation in bathrooms,
- Implementing metering policy, plan and program,
- Making operational changes for energy savings include heating, ventilation and air conditioning nighttime setback and increasing chilled water supply temperature during colder outdoor temperatures,
- Implementing a policy for leasing or purchasing alternate fuel vehicles, and
- Installing high-efficiency motors for various applications, including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, elevator renovations and other renovation projects.