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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Administering Green Programs in Congress: Issues and Options

Jacob R. Straus
Analyst on the Congress

Programs to create an environmentally conscious workplace have long existed on Capitol Hill. Congress has been working to reduce consumption and conserve energy since the 1970s. Traditionally, these programs have been administered by the Architect of the Capitol. In recent Congresses, the House of Representatives and the Senate have created separate energy reduction programs. In addition, the Architect of the Capitol has developed additional programs for the Capitol Complex.

In the House of Representatives, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) manages green programs for individual Member offices, committee offices, and support offices. The administration of campus-wide energy conservation programs, however, continues to be managed by the Architect of the Capitol. For the House, the CAO and Architect’s program oversight is conducted by the Committee on House Administration. Beginning in the 110
th Congress (2007- 2008), the House of Representatives labeled all conservation and greening programs as part of the “Green the Capitol” initiative.

In the Senate, green programs in individual Senate offices, committee offices, and staff support offices are administered by the Architect of the Capitol, in coordination with the Secretary of the Senate and the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate, and with oversight provided by the Committee on Rules and Administration. In the 112
th Congress (2011-2012), the Architect of the Capitol’s role in administering facilities-related programs on behalf of the Senate remains unchanged.

The Architect of the Capitol also administers greening programs for the Capitol Complex. These programs include energy usage reduction programs for the House and Senate office buildings, the Capitol building, and other Capitol complex facilities; conservation measures for the Senate office buildings, the Capitol building, and other Capitol complex facilities; and green programs for the Capitol Grounds.

A number of policy options are potentially available to create an inter-chamber greening program on Capitol Hill. The options include creating a formal House greening program, creating a “Green the Senate” initiative, establishing an independent greening commission, creating a Capitol Complex-wide greening program, and continuing to use ad-hoc programming for greening issues.

For further analysis of general greening programs in Congress, see CRS Report RL34617, Recycling Programs in Congress: Legislative Development and, by Jacob R. Straus.

Date of Report: February 18, 2011
Number of Pages: 31
Order Number: RL34694
Price: $29.95

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