The French Embassy Goes Green
On June 26, Mayor Vincent Gray presented awards to multiple organizations for their contributions to making DC greener at the 6th Annual Mayor’s Sustainability Awards Ceremony. The Embassy of France received a Greening Embassies Forum Award, honoring its outstanding leadership among foreign missions in partnership with the U.S. State Department in the field of sustainability within the District’s diplomatic community.
Mayor Gray pointed to the Embassy of France’s efforts to reduce energy costs, namely the installation of a 10,000-square-foot "Green Roof" as an excellent example of innovative green solutions. The structure’s ability to reduce air pollution and urban heat, and filter rainwater helped it stand out among the numerous upgrades and developments made by embassies and organizations in Washington.
On May 16, the Embassy of France participated again in Bike to Work Day. Its employees were encouraged to commute using bicycles rather than by bus or car. Despite a substantial rainstorm, numerous participants showed their support for sustainable practices by making the trip on two wheels.
Between 2013 and 2014 the Embassy of France held a collection for old computer equipment as part of its Green Embassy initiative. Outdated and broken hardware were collected for recycling. The proper disposal of old technology is critically important, as the materials can be toxic to the environment.
Technological equipment waste also contains precious metals that can be extracted from the machines and reused in other devices.
On April 24, 2014, the Embassy loaded its discarded materials for disposal. The amount of equipment was enough to fill a 45-foot trailer. Not only did the collection campaign demonstrate the Embassy’s concrete steps in pursuing its Green Embassy initiative and be environmentally responsible, but because the recycling process helps create green jobs in the local area, it also allowed the Embassy to contribute to the local economy.
The Embassy of France in Washington launched the Green Embassy Project in 2009. This action plan focuses on the areas of transport, energy, waste, procurement, water and shipping and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half and energy consumption by 40% by 2015.
The Green Embassy Project is an ambitious program to renovate the building as well as on a process to optimize daily practices: a new heating and air conditioning control system has been installed, the electricity purchased is low carbon, the hot water temperature has been lowered, electric bikes have been made available to employees for their work-related trips, the sorting of waste has become standard, etc. The embassy has also developed a 10.000-square-foot green roof, inaugurated by Ambassador Delattre on June 17, 2013.
- A 10.000-square-foot green roof inaugurated by Ambassador Delattre
The Embassy continues to work tirelessly to implement measures in all areas in order to achieve the stated objectives.
In two years, following an initial investment of $300,000, the embassy was able to save nearly $200,000 on its energy bill.
The French embassy is involved in the DC Greening Embassies Forum, a partnership between the Department of State, the Earth Day Network, and the D.C. diplomatic community. Officially launched by Secretary Clinton on Earth Day 2010, the forum meets quarterly to offer Washington, D.C.-based foreign missions the opportunity to share best practices, challenges, and experiences on greening facility renovations and sustainable business operations.
On March 14, 2013, the French embassy signed the Diplomatic and International Sustainability Pledge with the District of Columbia, along with 21 other embassies.
The embassy staff takes part in many other green initiatives, such as "Bike to Work Day" or the inauguration of a vegetable garden on the embassy’s ground.
- Bike to work Day
Thanks to all these efforts, the French embassy in Washington is now an Energy Star building, and received several awards from the city of Washington DC.
- Inauguration of a vegetable garden on the embassy’s ground with Ambassador Delattre
As Ambassador Delattre said, the Green Embassy Project is "a symbol of the French government’s commitment to sustainable development."
On November 15, the Embassy took part in America Recycles Day. The goal was to promote recycling in all its activities and departments. By signing a pledge, the Embassy has committed to continuing this process.
In December 2013, following an energy-use evaluation by Energy Star, a U.S. government-backed program that promotes energy efficiency, the Embassy earned a 92 out of 100. The score is calculated in relation to the average amount of electrical and gas energy consumed by other buildings of comparable size in the U.S. The Embassy’s status as a certified Energy Star building, which it also won in 2012, reflects France’s strong efforts in sustainable energy use, which is part of its "Green Embassy" program.
Learn more about France’s initiatives on energy and environment: http://www.franceintheus.org/greenfrance/