Steven Strong was there when the ribbon was cut to unveil a solar hot water system on the East Wing of the White House then occupied by President Jimmy Carter. In late August, he was back at the White House when a small solar PV system and two solar thermal systems quietly began operation after being installed on buildings in the presidential complex in Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C. – January 8, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] Strong, president of Solar Design Associates said his company was retained by the National Park Service early in 2002 to design the project. The PV system consists of 167 Evergreen Solar 51 W modules using cells manufactured using the company’s string ribbon process. Placed on the roof of the main White House grounds maintenance building, the 9 kW PV system directly feeds solar power into the White House grounds’ distribution system, providing electricity wherever it is needed. Two SunEarth solar thermal systems were also installed, one to heat the pool and spa and one to provide domestic hot water. While the system is fairly small and uses standard, widely available solar equipment, Strong said its location at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is particularly important for the solar industry. “It’s not so much a technical triumph as a policy triumph,” Strong said. The entire system installation was completed over a three-day period and includes a data acquisition system for monitoring the performance of the array and its ancillary electronic components. Day Star Energy Services of Silver Spring Maryland installed the solar thermal systems and Aurora Energy of Anapolis, Maryland installed the PV system. The inverters on the project, provided by SMA-America, consist of a bank of Sunny Boy 2500 inverter modules. The project represents a step in the right direction, according to the company. “For SMA and personally I think it is important to the public to see the government embracing clean energy,” said Sam Vanderhoof of SMA-America. “SMA is proud to be a partner of the greening of the White House.” Evergreen’s Vice President for Sales and Marketing Rex D’Agostino, said the modules met several key criteria set out by the White House including using an American made product manufactured in an ecologically friendly process. He said the company – from management to production – was excited about the opportunity to work on the project. “This company literally rallied around that flag,” D’Agostino said. “Everybody not only did what they had to do but went above and beyond the call of duty. It provided some significant internal morale escalation.” For many in the world of solar energy, the White House project is an important symbol for the entire industry. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura directly benefit from the project, which isn’t their first experience with Renewable Energy. Their ranch in Crawford, Texas features passive solar design and ground source heat pumps for heating and cooling among other green building features. The White House going green? One step at a time.

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