From the moment facility manager Reid Deaver arrived in Skopje, he made sustainability his mission. He reinvigorated the Embassy Green Team by identifying environmental issues that were important to the embassy, and his enthusiasm spread across the post. As participation in the Green Team grew, the Embassy began reaching out to other embassies in the city to discuss how they could partner on environmental issues. In October 2019, this effort resulted in a local trash pick-up event organized by the European Union delegation, the British Embassy, the U.S. Embassy, and local businesses. The event was a huge success and was widely publicized through social media and local news outlets.
The media underscored Ambassador Kate Byrnes’s interest in increasing awareness for environmental protection and highlighted how different nations and groups successfully collaborated to impart positive change. The spotlight on the embassy’s dedication to sustainability culminated in a visit from North Macedonia’s Minister of the Environment in March 2021. All of this was made possible by Deaver’s efforts, and why he won the Greening Diplomacy Initiative Award for Excellence in Individual Sustainability Leadership in the U.S. Direct Hire category.
The GDI Awards are a collection of four honors created in 2011 to recognize employees and teams that go above and beyond to help the Department lead by example on the environment and reduce our global footprint. Every year, the Department awards them on Earth Day.
“President Biden has charged federal agencies to lead by example on climate change, from installing clean and renewable energy to making smart decisions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help increase our resilience to serious climate impacts,” said Acting Under Secretary of Management Carol Perez, who serves as the State Department’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “This year, we are even more impressed with the work employees like Reid undertook to achieve these goals given the complexities and hardships of operating during a global pandemic.”
This year’s winner of the GDI Award for Team Sustainability Performance is U.S. Tri-Mission Rome. The Tri-Mission demonstrated their commitment to the climate crisis by making significant changes to their facility operations. All four of their main office buildings are now Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certified, demonstrating the Mission’s leadership in energy conservation and environmental design. The Mission Green Team also redesigned the parking lot to install electric charging stations for their new hybrid vehicles and to include permeable paving – significantly reducing water runoff, a leading source of water pollution globally.
The Mission also took significant steps towards reducing their energy consumption. A majority of their lighting now comes from LEDs, which require 30-40 percent less energy than fluorescent bulbs. When faced with aging elevators, the Mission worked with the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations to choose new elevators that reduce power demand by 50 percent and are equipped with a regenerative drive to store and reuse wasted energy. Given limited roof space, the Mission also decided to purchase renewable energy through Renewable Energy Certifications (RECs, offsetting about 3,000 tons of CO2, or the amount emitted by the average energy consumption for 360 U.S. homes in a year. Finally, they installed solar panels for the Villa Taverna Chief of Mission Residence, which reduced their natural gas bills by about 60 percent.
Awarded by employee vote, the People’s Choice Award went to U.S. Embassy New Delhi. This year, Embassy New Delhi focused their greening efforts on waste management and energy efficiency. They overhauled their recycling program and installed a composting machine to help reduce their carbon emissions from waste by an estimated 50 percent. They are also generating revenue from selling recyclable materials, which they will use to create an urban rainforest to provide a home for pollinators and wildlife. In addition, they achieved drastic reductions in their energy consumption by installing smart timers, sensors, and solar water heaters throughout the compound and residences.
In the Excellence in Individual Sustainability Leadership in the Locally Employed Staff category, Ahmad AlTibi was chosen as an Individual Sustainability Leader in the Locally Employed Staff category. AlTibi, a mechanical engineer at U.S. Embassy Amman, organized and submitted a winning proposal for the GDI-OBO Resilience Grant, obtaining funding for Amman’s new automatic car wash system which will reduce water used for car washing by 40 percent. AlTibi also helped earn the Embassy a LEED gold certification and worked to significantly improve the energy and water efficiency of the boiler, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems at post. He has gone above and beyond to search for new projects, like solar water heaters, that will continually improve the embassy’s environmental footprint.
U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Henry T. Wooster celebrated Mr. AlTibi’s accomplishments saying: “I am proud that Ahmad AlTibi was selected to be the first awardee of the GDI Sustainability Leadership Award for Locally Employed Staff. He is in the forefront of Embassy Amman’s efforts to realize our climate goals, especially in innovative ways to sustainably manage water in one of world’s most water-poor countries. Ahmad’s leadership has driven change and resulted in our reducing water consumption by 30 percent.”
Consider taking a cue from one of these GDI Award winners and doing something for Earth Day this week or weekend.
About the Authors: Caroline D’Angelo is the Lead for the Greening Diplomacy Initiative and Peter Brux is an Eco-Pathways Intern with the Greening Diplomacy Initiative. The Greening Diplomacy Initiative is managed by the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions (M/SS).Learn more about GDI and M/SS at state.gov/eco-diplomacy.