Jul 17, 2018 · 3 min read

It’s summertime in Washington, D.C. and that means it’s hot outside. But in Farragut Square, we are conducting a public science experiment to see how we can keep things cool.

We’ve brought two brightly colored houses to Farragut Square and filled them each with 1,800 pounds of ice. The houses, painted by a Belgian artist, began their journey in Europe and have made stops in Canada, New York City, and Philadelphia, before arriving to DC. One house is built according to the international building code most commonly used in DC, while the other is built to the Passive House (Passivhaus) standard.

Passive House is the world’s leading standard for energy-efficient construction, using exterior insulation, triple-glazed windows and heat recovery ventilation systems. Passive House buildings use up to 90% less energy than regular buildings.

In 2015, Brussels, Belgium — headquarters of the EU — was the first city in the world to require Passive House construction on all major renovation or construction, resulting in a 15% reduction in energy consumption and 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within the city.

Here in Washington, D.C., commercial and residential buildings account for an estimated 74% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of our commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, the EU has a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 (from 1990 levels). With heating and cooling of buildings being a leading contributor to CO2 emissions, using energy-efficient construction will have a big impact on reducing our carbon footprint without changing the way we live.

Despite the U.S. Administration’s announcement of its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, we’re encouraged by the actions of U.S. cities and states to combat climate change. We hope that these Ice Boxes will serve as a real-life demonstration of the impact of energy-efficient construction, and just how simple it is to save energy. After all, the cleanest and cheapest energy is energy that is not used!

We invite you to come down to Farragut Square between now and July 20 to see the Ice Boxes for yourself. Join us on July 20th at 12:30pm for the big reveal to see how much ice is left in each house!

Want to take the Ice Box Challenge and guess how much ice will be left after two weeks in the DC summer heat? Prizes include: Capital Bikeshare 1-year membership, Brasserie Beck $100 gift certificates, tickets to the Embassy of Belgium national day celebration, a LimeBike $50 voucher, Neuhaus chocolates, and a Crux Homes consultation.Visit to enter.

The DC edition of the Ice Box Challenge is presented by the European Union, together with the Embassy of Belgium, Golden Triangle BID, Nicholson Kovalchick (NK) Architects, the Office of the Secretary of Washington, D.C. and the District Department of Energy and the Environment.

Delegation of the European Union to the United States

Writing from European Union staff on issues of interest to the EU in the United States, with occasional guest posts


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The official Medium channel of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States of America.

Delegation of the European Union  to the United States

Writing from European Union staff on issues of interest to the EU in the United States, with occasional guest posts

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