Sidebar: Embassies Go Green
Images (Left) to (Right): (1) Newly completed photovoltaic/energy-saving project serves the U.S. Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua; and (2) The Innovation Center located in Helsinki, Finland, was awarded the prestigious LEED Platinum Certification. Department of State
Embassies Go Green
Currently, the Department has 38 certified facilities as Leadership in Energy & Environment Design (LEED) within its overseas portfolio. The portfolio now includes one prestigious LEED Platinum Certification for the Innovation Center in Helsinki, twelve LEED Gold certifications for embassies and consulates in Abuja, Brazzaville, Bujumbura, Dakar, Dubai, Manila, Mbabane, Monrovia, Monterrey, Rabat, Santo Domingo and Vientiane. The remaining 25 certifications were awarded Silver or Certified. With LEED certification recognizing buildings in over 150 countries around the world, the value, meaning, and language of LEED certification translates well to host country governments and citizens. Twenty of our facilities were pioneers as the first in the host country to achieve certification, demonstrating tangible best practices to the local building industry.
Solar power, solar shading, solar hot water, occupancy and daylight sensors, LED lighting, highly efficient HVAC strategies, highly reflective roofing materials that reduce the absorption of solar heat, electric traction elevators, and other energy conservation strategies were modeled to reduce energy costs by an average of twenty-seven percent below the industry baseline.
These new diplomatic facilities also employ advanced water conservation strategies. Consumption inside the buildings is reduced by an average of thirty-six percent through the use of air-cooled chillers, and low-flush and low-flow plumbing fixtures. The careful selection of native, adaptive, and drought tolerant plantings reduced potable water demand for landscaping by an average of seventy-three percent, when compared against baseline assumptions.
The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia, became the first newly constructed U.S. Embassy campus to generate clean power from photovoltaic panels, and utilize a rainwater harvesting system from the day the Embassy staff moved into the building. LEED-certified U.S. embassies and consulates in Abuja, Bujumbura, Cotonou, Dakar, Mbabane, Monterrey, Santo Domingo and Vientiane also generate clean power from photovoltaic panels reducing their grid purchased energy demand by an average of nineteen percent.
In addition to the facilities certified under the LEED for New Construction and Major Renovation system, in 2015 the Mel Sembler building in Rome became the Department’s first facility certified under LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance, and in 2016 the USAID Renovation in Dhaka became the Department’s first space certified under LEED for Commercial Interiors.
LEED-certified U.S. embassies and consulates have diverted forty-five percent of construction waste from landfills and incinerators. These facilities are constructed using base building materials containing high quantities of recycled content. On average, fifteen percent of the building materials contain previously used feedstock to create the new building materials. Additionally, twenty percent of base building materials were sourced within 500 miles of the facility.
LEED certification is an internationally recognized standard for measuring building sustainability. LEED-certified buildings are designed to lower operating costs while increasing asset value, reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve energy and water, be healthier and safer for occupants, and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.