Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

February 24, 2008

First Lady Takes “Greening The Mansion” Initiative to A National Audience

Addresses National Governors Association to Urge First Families to
Introduce Environmental Sustainability Measures at Executive Residences

First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer brought her “Greening the Mansion” initiative to Washington, D.C., where she made a presentation today at the National Governors Association’s annual Winter Meeting. She called on First Families across the country to implement “green” initiatives at their executive residences as part of a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about the role that environmentally-conscious buildings can play in fighting global warming.

“Eliot and I are leading by example by adopting simple conservation measures at home,” said First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer. “We hope to inspire families and business across the State to do their part by conserving energy. Due to the positive response and feedback we have received from New Yorkers, we are encouraging First Families across the country to become part of this important initiative.”

In New York’s state capital, Albany, the Governor and First Lady have introduced a series of energy-saving measures at the Executive Mansion, which will reduce electrical energy consumption by 50 percent and cut greenhouse gas emissions in half. The Mansion will eventually become a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “Silver” certified building.

The “Greening the Mansion” plan includes:

Clean, Renewable Energy: Solar panels will be installed in three locations on the Executive Mansion's grounds. Solar panels in a parking lot will serve as carports, providing shade and eventually enabling electric vehicles to recharge. Solar panels will be used as a canopy outside a State Police building adjoining the Mansion. A fuel cell system will also be used to power a back-up generator, replacing an existing diesel generator.

Energy-Efficient Appliances and Equipment: Energy-efficient appliances will replace several existing appliances in the Mansion. This process began with the installation of an energy-efficient washing machine and dryer to replace old and inefficient models. Low-flow showerheads have also been installed to reduce the use of water and many of the existing light bulbs throughout the Mansion have been replaced with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.

Ecologically Sound Maintenance Practices: The Mansion is phasing in the use of non-toxic cleaning products, mulching lawn mowers that recycle grass clippings in place, extensive recycling, and composting.

Green Equipment: Mansion staff has started using hybrid electric vehicles, electric lawn mowers and lawn maintenance equipment to reduce exhaust emissions.

Local and Organic Food Policy: The Mansion has begun purchasing more New York organically-grown produce, including goods from a local food co-op, thereby supporting green-growing methods and avoiding long-distance food transportation. Additionally, the Mansion supports local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which allows consumers to buy a share in a farm and receive fresh local organic produce when it is harvested.

The First Lady encouraged other states to develop public policies that enable more low and middle-income residents to affordably green their homes. Governor Spitzer and the First Lady had developed legislation that will provide monetary incentives to homeowners who build or renovate their homes to “green building” standards. Governor Spitzer has also incorporated “green building” requirements and incentives in New York's affordable housing assistance programs.

Buildings account for 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, with 21 percent coming from residential buildings. The U.S. Green Building Council estimates that LEED certification for homes reduces energy use 25 to 60 percent and prevents 2.5 to 5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Energy conservation is a major benefit of green buildings. In April 2007, Governor Spitzer announced that New York State would cut electricity use 15 percent by 2015. This is the most ambitious energy conservation goal in the nation. Green buildings will help New York achieve this important goal.

The First Lady decided to make “Greening the Mansion” into a nationwide initiative because the U.S. accounts for a disproportionately large share of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. While the U.S. comprises just 5 percent of the world's population, it is responsible for roughly one-quarter of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

2008 Press Releases