Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ambassador Bruce Oreck -- EE Global 2011 Testimonial

Monday, December 27, 2010

How is going Green good for exports & business?

What is energy security? How does renewable energy help?

How League of Green Embassies can help U.S. business

Friday, December 17, 2010

League of Green Embassies - a bipartisan project

How did the League of Green Embassies originate? What about the bipartisan nature of this Green Embassy initiative? An except of a interview with Bruce J. Oreck, U.S. Ambassador to Finland and Michael M. Wood, former U.S. Ambassador to Sweden. In this excerpt, the ambassadors discuss the origination and growth of the League of Green Embassies.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Los Angeles Going Dark Sky Compliant

by Wendy Kahler, U.S. Embassy Helsinki Environment, Science and Technology Officer

In March 2003, astronauts on the International Space Station snapped a photo of Los Angeles at night. From 240 miles away in space, the city of 498.3 square miles (1,290.6 km2) and 3.9 million people looks like a giant luminescent fish. When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in 1879, he never expected his little balls of light would illuminate entire cities bright enough to be seen from space. It’s a technological marvel, and increasingly an environmental headache.
The City of Los Angeles has over 200,000 street lights in its control generating nearly 170,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year – roughly the equivalent of 9500 cars on the road. The city’s lights also contribute to nighttime light pollution known as sky glow that blots out the stars and disrupts the natural patterns of nocturnal animals.
In an effort to reduce its carbon footprint, the “City of Angels”, in partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative, has begun replacing 140,000 of the city’s streetlights with LED (light-emitting diode) fixtures. LED’s are small semiconductors that generate light when applied to a current. Compared to traditional light fixtures, LEDs have a number of advantages. LEDs use a fraction of the energy to produce a lumen (brightness) level comparable to regular bulbs. Lacking a standard bulb’s delicate filament, LEDs have near zero fail rates and are particularly well suited for outdoor uses such as street lighting. Many LED fixtures last for 50,000 hours, or nearly 11.5 years when operated 12 hours per night. In addition, the direction of LED light is more precise nearly eliminating the wasteful sideways and overhead spillage produced from traditional lights which contribute to sky glow.
Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa launched the streetlight retrofit in 2009 as part of the city’s GREEN LA initiative to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 35% below 1990 levels by 2030 and increase its renewable energy to 40% by 2020. The retrofit will take five years and is divided into five year-long phases. In 2009, 20,000 fixtures were replaced with LEDs. Starting in 2010, 30,000 light fixtures will annually be upgraded to LEDs for a total of 140,000 new fixtures throughout the city by 2013.
Since LED technology is evolving rapidly, the retrofit’s phased roll-out allows project coordinators to continuously reassess which LED products would best suit the city’s needs. The upgrade also includes a remote monitoring device, which will allow the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting to monitor each fixture’s performance level using real-time data.
Of course all this new technology doesn’t come cheap. The estimated total cost of the retrofit project is $57 million. However, once the project is complete, Los Angeles can expect an annual energy savings of 68,640,000 kWh per year. This translates into an annual energy and maintenance savings of $10 million and full pay-back on the city’s initial investment within seven years.
And the city’s carbon footprint? The 140,000 LED fixtures will reduce the city’s CO2 levels by approximately 40,500 tons per year – the equivalent of 6500 passenger vehicles. That sort of impact has others taking notice. US cities from Ann Arbor, Michigan and Anchorage, Alaska to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are moving forward with their own LED retrofits to meet their climate goals.

US Embassy Helsinki is also doing its part. Under Ambassador Oreck’s direction, the Embassy has replaced all its outdoor security lighting with new LED fixtures. Several of the light fixtures in the Ambassador’s residence as well as the holiday Christmas lights have also been upgraded to LEDs. The new installations are expected to significantly reduce the Embassy’s annual energy costs.
Every effort counts when it comes to living more sustainably and LEDs lights are an easy way to make a big impact. The view from the International Space Station may get a bit dimmer, but the future of the planet is now looking a lot brighter.


Photo :

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Embassy Helsinki takes over League of Green Embassies

On November 10, the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki was delighted to take over the helm of the League of Green Embassies. In a handover ceremony at Tandberg studios in Helsinki, Ambassador Oreck recieved the symbolic "Blue Energy" lightbulb from U.S. Ambassador to Sweden Matthew Barzun. Embassy Helsinki will now take the lead in formulating the green agenda of this global community of over 50 embassies. Check out the video!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Geneva Eco-landscape Town Hall

The Geneva Green Team organized a town hall yesterday for the community to discuss ideas for the Mission grounds. In August, a team of U.S. landscape architecture students will visit the Mission and conduct a charette design exercise. There was great participation, lots of energy and great ideas! More info on the charette to come.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

U.S. Embassy Stockholm Welcomes the British Embassy Stockholm to the League

Today, U.S. Embassy Stockholm accepted the Green League Statement of Principles signed by Ambassador Andrew Mitchell, making the British Embassy Stockholm the first, non-U.S. diplomatic mission to become a member of the League of Green Embassies. The two groups will use a working lunch in the newly opened American Diner to explore ways to collaborate including introduction to the ESCO concept. This may also include a challenge to other embassies in Stockholm to an energy-saving contest come the start of the new diplomatic season here.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Windy City - Stockholm

Stockholm is a port city on the Baltic Sea so we get a pretty constant amount of wind. While we don't have the space for a big windmill, we'd like to assess the installation and integration of a small U.S.-made vertical windmill for outside power and energy storage. Please contact if you are an American company with such a product.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tired of Paper Towels

Embassy Stockholm is exploring green technologies to take care of drying hands in bathrooms. Are there any American companies out there with small (we have space issues), effective, solutions? Thanks

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Embassy Madrid kicks off Earth Day week by planting community garden

See the Efe video report.
Read a letter from First Lady Michelle Obama.
See our photos of the launch event.

The Embassy kicked off Earth Day week by inaugurating an Embassy organic garden that will become a vital, active part of our embassy community and outreach to the Spanish community.

Our garden will be living proof of that key environmental message “Waste not, want not” with a composting system to create our own soil from organic waste and shredded paper, as well as a rain catchment system to use run-off water from the roofs.

We are also starting a number of new green initiatives including embassy-wide recycling, a water reduction program in bathrooms, commuter “incentives” including showers for bicyclists and special carpooler parking, LES teleworking, and a green “Pledge” to reduce residential energy use.

Greening the Embassy can save money and resources, demonstrate USG environmental commitment, provide an opportunity to educate the Embassy community and our interlocutors, and showcase U.S. products and technologies. But the real key to these new initiatives is that they involve the Embassy community. They are not passive systems that simply happen: they are activities that require engagement by all of us who are part of the community. Embassy Madrid is committed to continuing to look at ways to work together to improve our environment.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wildlife and Students Participate in Earth Day

Embassy Zagreb celebrated Earth Day robustly with a Green Week of activities culminating in three outreach events. On Earth Day employees opened a sustainable no-mow lawn area of 450 square meters, augmented with birdbaths, bird feeders and native wildflowers to attract local insects and birds, thereby earning the mission a designation as a certified wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Embassy staff personally seeded the area with wildflower seeds!

The next day, students from the landscape design department of the University of Zagreb's school of Agriculture came to the Embassy to present their environmentally sustainable designs for the entire Embassy grounds. The best designs were recognzed by the Ambassador. And the Embassy Public Affairs Office helped celebrate Earth Day and mark 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity by sponsoring a digital video conference on biodiversity for Croatian students at its American Corners with Henry Ortiz, the Science Advisor for Los Angeles County Schools.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Presidents 40th Earth Day Message

Click here to watch President Obama’s Earth Day message:

U.S. Embassy Starting Point for Tesla Road Rally

Stockholm – On Wednesday, April 21, 2010, two Tesla cars began a road rally from Stockholm to Göteborg, Sweden, using the U.S. Embassy as their starting point. The two cars will make the 500 km trip on less than 90KW of electricity, approximately equal to 150 SEK or 20 USD, while at the same time having zero emissions. For more information, visit:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

EU Solar Decathlon in Madrid June 18-27

At the Green Embassies Workshop in Paris, we were able to tell many of the Green League about the upcoming Solar Decathlon in Madrid. As Ambassador Solomont indicated, the Solar Decathlon is a great partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Spanish Ministry of Housing. The Solar Decathlon has become a highly visible public event to draw attention to innovative design for zero-energy buildings. Universities from around the world compete in this fantastic event. The EU Solar Decathlon, the first ever, will be held in Madrid June 18-27. U.S. schools participating include the University of Florida and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute State University. Schools from Spain, Mexico, UK, China, Finland, Germany, France, the U.S., and Brazil are participating. More details on lead-up events and plans for the solar village can be found at This could be a great opportunity for the Green League to celebrate transatlantic clean energy technology collaboration.

USDOC Director General Suresh Kumar - Collaboration is Key

USDOC US&FCS Director General Suresh Kumar at the Green League Workshop explained that The Green League of Embassies Program is a collaboration of U.S. State Department’s Overseas Building Office (OBO), U.S. embassies worldwide, the Department of Energy, Energy Service Companies (ESCOs), and U.S. cleantech exporters. Three key goals of the Green Embassies Program are to advance the presidential mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in USG buildings; to demonstrate the capabilities of U.S. products and technologies to the world market; and to increase the exports of U.S. products and services in line with the National Export Initiative.

April in Paris - Embassy Green League Workshop

The Embassy Green League Workshop was held April 13, 2010 in Paris and provided over 100 participants including Senior Foreign Commercial Officers, Management Counselors, General Services Officers, and Facility Managers an opportunity to meet with State Department, ESCO contractors, and U.S. technology providers. ESCOs are authorized to submit proposals directly to State. After the ESCO is selected, there is an energy audit report, followed by design specification according to OBO design standards, with a security plan, shipping, on site storage, cleared personnel, and an on-site project director. During the performance phase, a third party contractor is hired to conduct a measurement and value analysis (M&V) to determine energy savings and payback on capital costs. Post can request bundling of projects.

Date Has Been Set for Stockholm Cleantech Venture Day 2010

Kista Science City and Stockholm Innovation and Growth are the partners behind Stockholm Cleantech Venture Day 2010, arranged for the 4th year in a row. This year 25 selected cleantech companies will present their investment cases to leading Swedish and international investors and decision-makers on September 30.

Monday, April 19, 2010

IHT Features Article on League of Green Embassies, Embassy Stockholm

“A League of Green Embassies, begun in 2007 by the U.S. Embassy in Sweden, now numbers more than 40 members, mostly American outposts in Europe but also some in other capitals like Katmandu, Nepal, and Abu Dhabi.” Full article.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Why Only OBO? How Other Bureaus Can Share The Cost

OBO continues to be tasked with construction projects for missions abroad. However, with the advent of greening embassies, OBO funds are stretched further to meet this increasing demand. And yet it is other bureaus which reap the benefit of cost savings initiatives from OBO-funded projects.

When will congressional law be changed to allow the funding gained by these savings intiatives be brought back into OBO to further the goals set forth by President Obama? It is not in the best interest of the entire Department of State to demonstrate the outward manifestation of American ideals through the shared responsibility of all bureaus to reduce our carbon footprint worldwide?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Planting the Future in Greece

US Embassy Athens participated in two successful reforestation programs over the past six months. Volunteers joined students, NGO's and businesses in planting more than 2,000 trees and bushes at Pendeli and Marathon, areas which suffered from Summer wildfires.

Top Down Greening in Athens

US Embassy Athens has begun greening the roof of the Embassy with extensive vegetation. This will reduce wasteful runoff and lower heating and cooling costs for the building.

Next step to offset carbon and environmental impact is a greenhouse at the Ambassador's residence to grow carbon consuming plants for landscaping the embassy and other US Government residences.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mission Germany Lights The Way

US Consulate Hamburg is converting security lighting fixtures with halogen bulbs and voltage regulators (at 82 watts each) to OBO-approved fixtures with compact fluorescent bulbs (at 42 watts each). The change yields an annualized savings of 3,600 kWh or a 1.3% reduction in electricity consumption compared to calendar year 2009. This step builds on a total 11.9% reduction in electricity consumption achieved at the Consulate Office Building (COB) during 2009.

This change is carbon neutral because the consulate converted to a green energy utility provider on January 1, 2009 – which, coincidentally was:
  • a budget neutral change, going from 9.85 € Ct./kWh to € 9.84 Ct./kWh,
  • a 146-ton reduction of carbon emissions for the switch to a green source provider, and
  • a 10-ton reduction of carbon emissions for the lower electrical consumption during 2009.

Via Mission Germany’s collaborative Energy Savings Initiative, post Munich is already exploring whether it can apply this approach to a similar problem of high energy consumption security lighting.

Geneva Pits Volunteers Against Waste

Last weekend, US Mission Geneva built a compost pit to turn waste from both yard clippings and paper shredding into topsoil. The project was completed by volunteers from the community as part of a Boy Scout's Eagle project.

Vienna Uses Danube To Cool Homes

US Embassy Vienna is not satisfied with new Mag-Lev chillers or adding Smart cars to the motorpool fleet. They've now leased apartements that are cooled by heat exchange with Danube River water!

Copenhagen Earth Day Video Celebrates Accomplishments

Friday, April 9, 2010

Reducing Energy Consumption through Lighting Doesn't Always Demand Complex Solutions

Valletta Reduces Energy Consumption through Lighting:

- Each workstation will have individually controlled energy efficient task lights allowing the occupants to make individual adjustments and allow overall lighting levels to be reduced
- Occupancy sensors will automatically turn off lights when the rooms are vacant

Daylight harvesting techniques include:
- Automatic daylight dimming illumination for fixtures adjacent to windows to utilize daylight
- Light shelves reflect natural daylight back into
open office spaces

New Technologies Help Valletta Reduce

Valletta reduces energy consumption in the chancery:

- Project was designed to consume 20% less energy than the ASHRAE 90.1 baseline case
- Reduced Energy demand through implementation of chillers, and Variable Frequency Drives (VFD) for Pumps, fans, and motors
- Building Automation Systems (BAS)
- Sunshades reduce solar heat gain
- Gearless Electric Traction Elevators

Conserving Water At The Valletta NEC

Reduce Demand and Consumption of Potable Water through Irrigation Techniques and Water-conserving Plumbing:

- Demand for water consumption for irrigation was reduced by 50% from the baseline case through landscaping design using native plant selections
- Drip Irrigation will be installed to deliver water directly to the plant roots and reduce losses from evaporation
- Reduce Demand and Consumption of Potable Water through Water Conserving Plumbing fixtures:
- Building plumbing fixtures reduce potable water demand by at least 20% against the baseline case
- Strategies used to reduce demand include; waterless urinals, low flow fixtures, and automatic shut-off fixtures