Embassies have become a powerful force for introducing innovative energy efficient solutions and mobilizing public opinion and action.
With the “Energy Efficiency Sweep of Europe,” launched in November 2011 by the Alliance to Save Energy and the U.S. State Department’s League of Green Embassies, building makeovers are helping residences and offices of U.S. ambassadors across Europe save energy and money.
The project in Europe is nearing completion and the success of it has inspired embassies in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, to promote and employ energy-saving efficient technologies. In fact, more than 40 embassies and international organizations have pledged to make their buildings and operations more sustainable.
“What we hope to do with the League of Green Embassies is to demonstrate to buyers in these cities that there are solutions that they can bring out into the commercial world,” said Keith Curtis, senior energy advisor in the Department of Commerce. “We then hope each city will copy these.”
Energy makeover of 230-year-old embassy
The “Energy Efficiency Sweep of Europe” was inspired by the success of an energy-efficiency makeover of the historic 230-year-old Brussels residence of U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman, which was unveiled in April 2011 during the Alliance’s Energy Efficiency Global Forum (EE Global).
Danfoss joined forces with other private-sector companies including 3M, Cree, Niagara Conservation, Philips, Whirlpool, and Johnson Controls and donated energy-efficient technologies to the Brussel project. Combined with other energy-saving enhancements, the Danfoss products contributed to energy savings of more than 22 % in the first week after the makeover unveiling and 31 % in electricity costs over the 10 months following the renovation.
Embassies as platforms of energy innovations
Encouraged by the results of the Brussels makeover, which promoted international cooperation in energy efficiency and clean technologies, U.S. Ambassador to Finland and League of Green Embassies Chair Bruce Oreck announced the European “sweep,” an initiative that called for the replication of the Brussels makeover across Europe. Their vision is that embassies should become platforms of energy innovations, showcasing the latest technologies that highlight best practices in energy efficiency.
Beginning in November 2011, embassies in Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, Slovakia, Portugal, Spain, Bulgaria, and Poland have now been through an energy-efficiency makeover.The success of the embassy makeovers is still being measured. However, the projected energy savings are significant. In Rome, for example, energy efficiency technologies are expected to slash energy costs almost in half, saving $30,000 a year.
Projected energy savings for the embassies in Europe include:
• 45-76 percent on exterior lighting
• 23-46 percent on heating
• 14,400 gallons / 54,500 litres of water (the amount used for 350 loads of laundry)
• 528 gallons / 1,900 litres of oil, equivalent to six tons of avoided CO2.
“Success like this brilliantly illustrates the U.S. government leading by example,” said Lisa Tryson, director, corporate communications and public relations at Danfoss North America. “The embassy sweep program showcases available, proven technologies. It provides an opportunity to test, measure, verify and communicate results. And, as a high profile, international program, it portrays the U.S. State and Commerce Departments at their best – institutions with vision that know how to use their resources to highlight the potential for positive change around the world.”