Say what you will about the United States government; at least the Department of Energy practices what it preaches. Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman led the inauguration of a large solar power system at the top of the DOE’s Forrestal Building today— a gesture that both symbolically and practically shows the DOE’s commitment to solar.
The photovoltaic (PV) system will generate 200 MWh of electricity—enough to provide eight percent of the building’s energy during peak hours. The system will also save up to $26,000 in energy costs during its first year of operation.
The DOE’s new PV system, which was developed by the SunPower Corporation, is 40-50 times larger than a residential system, and is integrated into the Forrestal building’s current roof.
In addition to providing the DOE with plentiful power, the PV system will serve as an educational tool for the public. A large video display installed in the building’s lobby shows the amount of electricity generated by the solar array.
Unfortunately, the Forrestal building is only one of two federal buildings in Washington DC to earn ENERGY STAR certification. We look to the federal government—or at least the DOE— to monitor our country’s progress, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to expect more than two government buildings to show success in energy conservation. Let’s hope more federal institutions follow the Forrestal complex’s lead.
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