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My White House is Solar Cool. Barack, why isn’t yours?

September 3rd, 2010 · No Comments

Sometimes, your kids tell you great things.

We have the coolest house on the street.


We’re cool — according to the kids.

Certainly isn’t the non-existent slide for the pool that isn’t there. Our lack of a huge media room and the glaring absence of a gym didn’t contribute. And, while I’ve always thought it cool that we live on the white house of the street, that isn’t it either.

Why is it cool? According to my soon-to-be fourth-grader son:

Because we know where our electricity comes from.

Following up on the 2009 installation of solar hot water, solar pv went on our roof in June and went active in July (and just passed the 1 megawatt of production mark with, even considering the high temperatures and air conditioning, the house having produced 350 more kilowatt hours than we’ve used).

While Barack Obama’s daughters have reason (real reason) to believe that they live on the coolest house of their street, their father has a real chance to make it cooler with a relatively simple action. Follow in Jimmy Carter’s footsteps and put solar (back) on The White House roof.

Bill McKibben and have come out with a call for the world’s leaders to put solar on it — it being their own rooftops — as a symbol and step toward increasing their political actions to build a clean energy future. As part of this, McKibben and others will be taking a Put Solar On It road-trip, driving one of the original Carter solar (hot water) panels to the White House. McKibben — and many, many others — is hoping that Obama will decide to participate in the 10 Oct 2010 work party and climb on The White House roof (hopefully with entire family) to put solar on The White House roof.

When Dominion Virginia Power (finally) authorized my home’s net metering, there was a bit of a struggle as everyone wanted to turn the system on … five sets of hands, in unison, flipped us from carbon to the power of the sun. It was an empowering moment.

And, that empowerment has reached beyond my household. Numerous friends and neighbors have made inquiries since then. Three households, acting on my (strong) advice, “efficiency before renewable power”, have had energy audits and started investing in energy efficiency with hopes of putting on solar soon. I live on a dead-end street and not that many people come by yet the impact has been real.

When Michelle Obama got her hands dirty gardening, gardening sales boomed in the nation.

What might happen if Barack got his hands dirty helping put solar panels on his (and our) White House roof? (And, well, also conduct a White House barnraising weatherization event?)

  • Would this inspire people to do energy efficiency in their own homes?
  • Would that inspires Americans to put solar on their roofs?
  • Would this help bring visibility to the fact that global warming is real and a serious risk … and that real solutions and opportunities exist?
  • Would this help build a movement to pressure politicians toward action?
  • Would that enable Barack to move renewable energy legislation through the Congress to help put insulation in our walls and solar on our roofs?

Barack can have some confidence that Malia and Sasha know that they have a pretty cool dad and a pretty cool house.

On 10/10/10, Barack can add to that coolness … and help change the nation and the globe for the better at the same time.

Bill McKibben on the Dave Letterman show.

[minute 7]  Bill McKibben:  Look what happened when Michelle planted the garden. Next year seed sales went up 30 percent.

Letterman:  But the garden didn’t threaten oil and gas …

[8:30]  McKibben:  “10/10/10 global work party, that’s why we want Barack Obama on the roof putting those panels back where they belong” [sustained audience applause]

[9:20: McKibben: “During the work party, people will doing things like putting up a solar panel but they will be doing it to send a political message and that message is simple:  If I can go to work and do something, then I damn well expect my political leaders to do something.”

And, well, ask yourself:

Where will you be on the 10th minute of the 10th hour of the 10th day of the 10th month of the 10th year? 10/10/10/10/10 Will you be helping build a movement for a clean energy future?

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Tags: Bill McKibben · Energy · renewable energy · solar