“As we deepen our commitment to the promotion of clean, renewable energy, energy efficiency and resource conservation, our embassies abroad and facilities at home become platforms for eco-diplomacy – models of sustainability that reflect and project America’s commitment to responsible environmental stewardship, reduce operating costs, and conserve our resources.”
Secretary of State John Kerry
The Greening Diplomacy Initiative (GDI) aims to improve the environmental sustainability of the U.S. Department of State’s global operations and to encourage foreign embassies in Washington to do the same. Advanced by the Department’s Greening Council in 2009, the GDI challenges the Department to develop and implement policies and actions that lessen its overall environmental footprint, reduce costs, and ensure sustainability remains at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy.
President Barack Obama instructed federal agencies to develop, implement, and annually update a strategic sustainability plan to meet energy, water, and waste reduction targets (Executive Order 13514: Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.) Agencies are rated on Energy Management, Transportation Management, and Environmental Stewardship. The State Department consistently receives high marks in all three areas of the Office of Management and Budget’s Sustainability/Energy Scorecard related to domestic operations.
The State Department has established a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal of 20% by FY2020 for its domestically controlled facilities (relative to a FY2008 baseline) for emissions created by building power generation. The Department also established a greenhouse gas reduction goal of 2% for emissions from waste, energy transmission loss, and travel.
The D.C. Greening Embassies Forum established by the State Department and Earth Day Network was launched on Earth Day 2010. It consists of Washington, D.C.-based foreign missions and international organizations, and shares challenges, experiences, and best practices on green facility renovations. In 2012, the Forum brought together over 50 diplomatic missions and international institutions in Washington, D.C. to sign a pledge with the city and its mayor. They committed to maintain their operations sustainably and to pursue environmental and efficiency goals that parallel those of the District of Columbia.
The Department is meeting a significant portion of its GHG reductions at zero net cost through installing energy saving measures, such as efficient lighting and plumbing fixtures, financed in part through ESPCs. Contractors install energy saving equipment throughout Department buildings and the energy cost savings from these measures pays contractors for a set number of years.
The State Department established an internal GDI website where domestic offices and U.S. missions overseas may exchange sustainability practices, propose innovative solutions, and search for Department resources. The Department also encourages online discussions with its workforce on greening issues.