Thursday, April 22, 2010
By Matt Cover, Staff Writer
(CNSNews.com) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called a Capitol Hill press conference Wednesday to unveil new light fixtures in the House cafeteria. The light fixtures cost $140,000 and will take almost 10 years to pay off in saved energy.
Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers told CNSNews.com that the new lights, along with motion sensors and automatic window shades, are a first for the House. The lights already have been installed in one Senate Committee room.
“We have a couple of applications,” Ayers said. “This is the first one in the House [and] we have another application that we’ve installed in the Senate – that’s in room SD-G50 in the Dirksen [Senate Office] Building. That’s a committee hearing room. We’re piloting this new technology.”
Ayers said that the new light fixtures and window shades were installed in the cafeteria, located in the basement of the Rayburn House Office Building, because the LED [light emitting diode] light fixtures have become much less expensive.
“It’s now becoming much more affordable, so we’re sort of kicking the tires on it for the moment. It seems to work terrific. It’s got great energy savings, and it’s got – we think – great lighting quality, and the price of the light fixtures just in the last year has come down significantly.”
Ayers said that the price had come down from $800 per fixture to $300, meaning that the lights would theoretically pay for themselves in less than 10 years, due to estimated reductions in electricity usage.
“I think this fixture was $800 a year ago, and it’s now just over $300, so in one year that’s a pretty significant savings – which allows us to begin using this kind of equipment and technology, because we’re able to get a good return on investment. At $800 a fixture we can’t get a good return on investment, but when it gets down to $300 – and I’m sure it will go even lower – we’re able to get a good return on investment.
“This particular room, with all of the technology, was about $140,000, which is less than a 10-year return on investment for us.”
Pelosi said that the new lights in the cafeteria would make the Capitol a “shining example of sustainability” and green technology.
“Three years ago House Democrats launched our Green the Capitol initiative, ensuring that our nation’s leaders remain responsible stewards of our environment,” Pelosi told the small crowd of reporters and staff gathered in the cafeteria.
“Today, in that same tradition, we gather to renew that pledge, taking one step forward in our effort to make this Capitol of the United States, this beacon of freedom and liberty, a shining example of sustainability,” she added.
Pelosi said that the new light fixtures and window shades – which raise and lower based on the level of sunlight coming through the windows – would “set the standard for sustainable living nationwide.”
“In making this change we are flipping the switch on a greener future for Congress and setting the standard for sustainable living nationwide,” Pelosi declared.