Sidebar on Department of State Leadership: The Greening Diplomacy Initiative

Bureau of Resource Management
November 15, 2011

Photo showing the new embassy in Lusaka, Zambia, designed to incorporate unique architectural features that showcase elements of Zambia.

The new embassy in Lusaka, Zambia was designed to incorporate unique architectural features that showcase elements of Zambia. The embassy design also integrates green building techniques and has been registered with the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Department of State/OBO

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton launched the Greening Diplomacy Initiative (GDI) in 2009 to improve the environmental sustainability of the State Department’s global operations. Advanced by the Department’s Greening Council, the GDI challenges the Department to develop and implement policies and actions that lessen its overall environmental footprint, reduce costs, and ensure support remains at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy. The State Department was one of six Federal agencies to receive the highest marks in all three areas (energy, water, and waste reduction targets) of the Office of Management and Budget’s Sustainability/Energy Scorecard.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals

The State Department has established a greenhouse gas reduction goal of 20 percent by FY 2020 for its domestically controlled facilities for Scope 1 and 2 emissions created by generation of power for buildings. The Department also established a greenhouse gas reduction goal of 2 percent by FY 2020 for Scope 3 emissions from waste, energy transmission loss, and travel.

The Department’s Recent Milestones

  • Reduced energy use by 12.6 percent and invested $659,000 in energy/water-saving measures in FY 2009
  • Increased facilities renewable energy use to 5 percent in FY 2010
  • Broke ground for a new Certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold data center in FY 2010
  • Increased the number of vehicles using alternative fuels to comprise 41 percent of the domestic fleet
  • Established air and commuter-travel teams to research methods that could make Department employee travel more energy efficient

D.C. Greening Embassies Forum

The State Department and the Earth Day Network launched the D.C. Greening Embassies Forum. It is a way to encourage green activities across Washington’s diplomatic community. The Forum, consisting of Washington, D.C.-based foreign missions, meets quarterly to share challenges, experiences, and best practices on green facility renovations and sustainable business operations.

Sharing and Communicating Ideas

The State Department established an internal GDI website where domestic offices and U.S. missions overseas may exchange proven sustainability practices and submit innovative solutions, review environmental reports and submissions, and search for Department resources on greening.