The Department of Commerce this week installed three solar panels on the roof of its headquarters, the Herbert C. Hoover Building (HCHB) in downtown Washington, D.C. The first of its kind for the building, the installation is part of Commerce’s efforts to increase its use of renewable energy and commitment to environmental stewardship.
The installation also supports President Obama’s December 5 memo  challenging federal agencies to obtain 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
Two Commerce agencies–the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)–have already installed solar panels on some of their facilities in recent years. The Department is challenging all Commerce bureaus to pursue renewable energy, implement energy conservation campaigns, and lead by example as good stewards of the environment.
The installation is a collaboration between the Office of Facilities and Environmental Quality’s Office of Space and Building Management and Office of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Programs (OSEEP).
The solar panels are an important but small step toward utilizing renewable energy. The Department has launched several additional initiatives to promote new energy-related initiatives. For example, Commerce established a Green Grants program in October 2012 to provide 50 percent cost matching funds for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects Department-wide. The program is managed by OSEEP through a panel of bureau representatives to ensure equity in the project selection process. OSEEP is also heading up a team effort involving the Census Bureau, NIST, and NOAA to use an alternatively financed contract to implement several renewable energy and energy efficiency projects at multiple facilities.
For more information on renewable energy or the Green Grants program, visit OSEEP at: http://www.osec.doc.gov/ofeq/OSEEP/ .