U.S. Mission Geneva – Press Release
April 28, 2011
The United States Mission to the United Nations is very pleased to have been selected as a model of green diplomacy and environmental stewardship under a new award created by the U.S. Department of State.
The U.S. Mission was chosen as the runner up in the first annual Greening Diplomacy Initiative (GDI) award, which recognizes leadership and innovation in sustainability projects at State Department buildings around the world.
First prize was awarded to the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, the very first U.S. diplomatic Mission to have comprehensively calculated its carbon footprint, tallying all Embassy activities’ carbon emissions.
The State Department has emphasized the importance of carbon emissions measurements because of the important benchmark they set and is encouraging other Embassies to follow Ulaanbaatar’s lead.
The United States Mission in Geneva has this week completed a carbon footprint study assisted by Swiss Climate AG, an ISO certified auditor for carbon emissions. The results show that the Mission’s footprint per employee is half that of comparable organizations in Geneva.
The Department of State created the Greening Diplomacy Initiative (GDI) award to recognize and encourage the many innovative ways in which green teams at U.S. diplomatic posts around the world are tackling the challenge of reducing their environmental footprint. The contest attracted some 130 submissions from diplomatic posts and offices around the world.
“The Department of State takes great pride in representing the values of this nation, which include that of environmental stewardship,” said Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary of State for Management. “Over the past year, the Department has shown leadership in many areas, from installing facilities for bike commuters, to retrofitting our D.C. buildings with energy-efficient lights, to increasing the number of fuel-efficient vehicles in our fleet. Around the world, our missions are also taking on the challenge of reducing their environmental footprint.”
“We can all learn from the great examples set by Ulaanbaatar, Geneva, and all of the offices and posts who have demonstrated success in greening” Kennedy said in an Earth Day message to U.S. diplomats. He challenged all State Department embassies, missions and offices to “join in this spirit of innovation as we continue to improve the communities in which we live and work.”
The criteria for selection for the inaugural GDI award included:
- Activities that “lead by example” in environmental sustainability and can be easily replicated at other missions
- Activities that advance bilateral and /or regional cooperation on sustainable development and business operations; and
- Actions that demonstrate innovative management policy and effective stewardship of the Department’s resources in ways that reduce the Department’s environmental footprint.
Under Secretary Kennedy said the U.S. Mission in Geneva was selected for its “outstanding steps in facility and operations management, including implementing a state-of-the-art chiller for their building’s cooling needs, and innovative, water-efficient and wildlife-friendly landscaping.”
“We are very excited about this award, which reinforces the Mission’s reputation as the greenest US diplomatic building in Europe,” said Ambassador Betty E. King, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva. “We are proud about what we’ve been able to accomplish so far, but our Green Team is also determined to continue to seek new ways to make this Mission greener and more sustainable.”
The GDI award cites Geneva’s achievements as follows:
“Mission Geneva approaches greening from all angles. Examples include:
- Mission Geneva’s green operation uses waterless urinals and low-flush toilets, Dyson Airblade hand dryers, and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs.
- Mission Geneva not only recycles over 15,000 liters of materials annually, but it also has initiated yard waste composting, which is then used as organic fertilizer and soil amendment.
- Mission Geneva organized a competition among university students to create a green landscaping design. This resulted in a landscape plan that will lower maintenance costs, create better representational spaces and be more environmentally friendly.
- Mission Geneva encourages its employees to use alternative modes of transportation, such as offering bikes to the staff or using the self-drive fleet of fuel efficient and hybrid cars.
- Lastly, Mission Geneva is one of the only sites in the world to operate a Maglev Chiller, which is projected to reduce energy consumption by 30%. It also worked with Overseas Buildings Operations to install solar panels which have already saved more than $70,000 in electricity costs and provide a visible example to the public of the U.S. Government’s commitment to clean energy technology.”