On Oct. 5, 2010, President Obama agreed to install both photovoltaics and solar hot water on the White House. That was a year ago last Wednesday, but thus far the White House roof hasn’t been graced by new modules.
Last fall organizations led by BIll McKibben’s 350.org petitioned to have President Obama put solar back on the White House. As part of the campaign, McKibben found one of the solar hot-water panels installed on the White House by President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s (removed by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s).
McKibben and supporters traveled from Maine, where they found the panel, to Washington, D.C., making campaign stops along the way to gather supporters. At first, Obama’s office was mum on the subject, but on Oct. 5, the president said he’d install solar on the White House roof by spring 2011, but it still hasn’t happened as another campaign, Turn the White House Green, pointed out.
On the anniversary the organization sent a photo petition, photographs of campaign supporters that want the White House to become energy-efficient and solar powered—another effort supported by McKibben.
The campaign also organized a call in to the White House.
“Supporters of the campaign are asking President Obama to demonstrate leadership, showcase cleantech innovation, and bring to view environmental stewardship by turning the most visible home and building in America into an environmental model for others. LEED certification would accomplish this feat,” the campaign said in a press release.
The organization wants to see Obama do more for energy efficiency, said campaign organizer Jason Duffy.
“Really, it seems like he hasn’t done that much for solar or the environment,” he said. That may be partly because Obama’s been dealing with the economy and wars, he said.
“He kind of put the environment at the end of his list. It kind of lets [energy efficiency] things scoot by and really hasn’t produced anything,” Duffy said. “It’s really time to get this to the front of his agenda. I’d really like to see 2012 be about the environment. It’s a long-term goal of the campaign to make the campaign more of an election year issue.”
But Turn the White House Green has more up its sleeve, according to Duffy.
“Even if he does turn the White House green and goes LEED, I’ve got things planned that’s going to keep that ball rolling. This is definitely not about President Obama saving face,” he said. “The campaign is about accelerating renewable energy adoption, increasing energy efficiency and accelerating green-based economic growth nationwide.”
He’s also using the platform to encourage U.S. citizens to go solar and make their homes energy-efficient.
In addition to hosting petitions on the campaign’s site, Duffy also educates consumers on energy-efficiency measures they can make in their homes and can connect them with installers, he said.