Top Ten Highlights of the League of Green Embassies

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The League of Green Embassies was created by the United States Department of State. It was established as an initiative to promote international cooperation for clean technologies and energy efficiency. There are three major objectives of the League of Green Embassies 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.” When the league was established in 2007, it was run by former U.S Ambassador to Sweden, Michael M. Wood. In 2010, the U.S. Embassy in Helskini’s ambassador, Bruce J. Orek, took over the league.

1) Panama gets LED Lighting. In January of 2011, SOL Inc. partnered with the United States Embassy in Panama to supply solar lighting systems to aid the efforts of the Embassy to reach its energy efficiency goals as set by current President Barak Obama. In this agreement, SOL will provide four LED systems of parking lot, pathway, and roadway applications. These LED lights will offer a large number of years worth of lighting without any possibilities of blackouts, brownouts, or power surges.

2) Community Garden in the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. In April of 2010, the U.S Embassy in Madrid, Spain, created an organic garden that would become an essential and active part of the embassy community as well as outreach to the local Spanish community. The garden is to provide the message of “waste not, want not.” A number of other green initiatives are being worked on at this Embassy, including a water reduction program, embassy-wide recycling programs, commuter “incentives,” and a pledge to reduce overall residential energy use.

3) First Non U.S. Diplomatic Mission becomes Member of League of Green Embassies. In May of 2010, the British Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, led by Ambassador Andrew Mitchell signed the Green League Statement of Principles, making that diplomatic mission the first non-U.S. one to join the league. The British Embassy Stockholm along with the U.S. Embassy Stockholm will collaborate on various energy saving capabilities and how to introduce the ESCO concept. They are also thinking about setting up a challenge to other embassies in the Swedish capital to save energy as well.

4) Blue Energy. The League of Green Embassies understands that the future of the planet rests on the decisions that are made today, including the decisions made regarding energy sources, how to use them, and how to create a sustainable environment. Blue Energy is the term used to discuss this concept and focus on the significance of the actions and choices made regarding energy, including energy security, intelligent buildings, clean technologies and even growing locally organic foods.

5) Current U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden Meets with Ambassador Oreck to Discuss Green Energy Innovations. In 2011, Vice President of the U.S. Joseph Biden met with Ambassador Oreck, leader of the League of Green Embassies at the U.S. Embassy Helsinki to discuss the league’s role in advancing the commitment of the White House to the National Export Initiative. They also discussed business innovation. Vice President Biden was shown some of the manufactured products installed at the Embassy, including Micro Turbine wind power and micro lensed, super efficient LED exterior lighting. Vice President Biden, echoing the words of President Obama, stated that the U.S. needs to lead by the power of their example in using energy intelligent products supported by the league and utilized to promote U.S. exports and save money.

6) WindStream Delivers 30,000 Units to South American Country Brazil. In 2011, Brazil and the U.S. further solidified their economic and trade relationship by buying 30,000 wind units from American wind energy company WindStream. Brazil is one of the U.S.’s largest trading partners with exports to the Latin American country in 2010 reaching over $50 billion. The league says, “As the U.S.-Brazil relationship deepens, we seek to base our cooperation on strong and dynamic private sectors, a commitment to open and fair trade, and continued economic and energy integration. Strengthening the economic and commercial relationship between the U.S. and Brazil through stronger partnerships on energy (including clean energy, biofuels, and petroleum sectors), infrastructure and development cooperation in third countries will allow both countries to grow and at the same time strengthen the bonds between the U.S. and Latin America.”

7) U.S. Embassy in Belgium becomes Greener. In April of 2011, current U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman presented to the League of Green Embassies recent changes made to the residence to save energy. This includes the inclusion of two layers of thermal insulation and the replacement of 500 traditional lamps with LED and halogen bulbs. The overall goal is a complete energy efficient makeover of the residence while still respecting the historic décor and features of the place. A number of companies members of the D.C.- based Alliance to Save Energy have assisted on the project.

8 ) U.S. Embassy in Belgium to Get an Energy Efficient Makeover. In April of 2011, a number of private firms have come together to aid the U.S. Ambassador of Belgium in giving the 230 year-old Ambassador Residence in Brussels a “green makeover.” Through the donation of private companies, this eighteenth century house is going to become more energy efficient, including insulation and heat valves. It will not be an easy task, however, the league is up to the challenge.

9) U.S. Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal takes a Green Leap Forward. As one of the founding embassies of the League of Green Embassies, the U.S. Embassy to Portugal, residing in the capital of Lisbon, created the LEAF – Lisbon Eco-Friendly Action Forum, to develop ideas that would aid in reducing the total carbon footprint of the U.S. Embassy. LEAF focuses on reducing energy consumption internally in an effort to reduce overall carbon dioxide emissions. Come initiatives include recycling containers around all embassy buildings, creating a carpool program for embassy workers, and installing an electricity system that is more cost-effective. Since LEAF was started in 2008, the embassy has reduced total energy consumption by almost ten percent.

10) U.S. Embassy in Mongolia Wins first Global Environmental Award. In 2011, the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia won the first U.S. Department of State’s annual Greening Diplomacy Initiative Award out of 130 participants. This U.S. Embassy in Mongolia won for implementing a number of programs to promote sustainability and conservation within all Embassy operations. The Green Team at the Embassy creating a number of programs including tree planting, recycling program, utilizing well water for irrigation purposes, and the use of compact fluorescent lights to reduce energy cost.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at shawn@watershedcapital.com

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.