Federal News Radio: Interview w/ White House Architect Stephen Ayers

StephenAyersSmallThis week, architects, builders, and vendors who sell construction services and supplies to the Federal Government and the private sector are meeting at the Washington Convention Center for “EcoBuild America”.

By Max Cacas, Reporter, FederalNewsRadio
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Two years ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the “Green the Capitol” initiative, designed to reduce the Capitol’s carbon footprint, and make the entire Capitol campus more energy efficient.

Yesterday, the acting Architect of the Capitol, Stephen Ayers, offered a progress report, complete with photo slides, to the EcoBuild America conference, which got underway earlier this week at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The conference focuses on the cutting edge of smart, sustainable high-performance and sustainable green buildings, construction techniques, materials, and products.

A little over a year ago this month, the newest, and some would say, the greenest portion of the Capitol complex, the Capitol Visitors Center, opened to much fanfare, and some controversy and criticism for its high cost and repeated delays.

Today, with much of the construction completed and much of the criticism behind him, architect Ayers points to the number of people who have visited the Visitors Center.

“We’ve had 2.3 million people come through the Capitol building, and the Visitors Center, since it opened last year,” he said. Ayres also notes that as many as a million visitors stepped into the Botanical Gardens at the foot of Capitol Hill, which also falls under the purview of the Architect of the Capitol.

We’re also coming up on the first anniversary of Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States. Ayers detailed in photos how the Inaugural platform, where the President takes the oath of office and delivers his inaugural address, is stick-built from wood, which is later donated to Habitat for Humanity. He also talked about a special feature of that platform, which in the best traditions of recycling, was turned into something new.

“We put a large piece of mahogany, right on the spot where the President stands. We take that piece of mahogany, and we fashion 100 gavels out of that. He hands them out as gifts, to his family, cabinet members, and friends that joined him that day.”

Ayers also told the EcoBuild conference that little, by little, they are making their way across Capitol Hill, and working to make the lighting in congressional hearing rooms more eco-friendly.

One of the really successful projects we’re doing in the Senate is a daylight harvesting system, now in 35 members’ offices. The system measures the amount of daylight coming into an office, and controls the lighting in those spaces.

Across Capitol Hill, Ayers points to the renovation of the House Science and Technology Committee, where the architect’s office installed new windows, electrical system and new LED lights, which are more power efficient.

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