U.S. Embassy Rome, Italy: Energy Efficiency Makeover February 15, 2012
On February 15, the Ambassador publicly rolled out ‘green’ technology recently installed at his residence as part of the League of Green Embassies’ “Energy Efficiency Sweep” (EE Sweep) initiative for European ambassadorial residences. The improvements are expected to cut electricity costs at the residence by nearly 48%, saving $30,000 annually. The event highlighted for Italians the U.S. Government’s commitment to reduce our carbon footprint at home and abroad, and economic opportunities offered by applying innovative energy-saving technologies to Italy’s historic buildings. The event generated favorable press and increased public understanding of our greening agenda in Italy through traditional and social media. Ambassador Thorne was joined for the occasion by U.S. Ambassador to Finland Bruce Oreck, the current League Chair, and EUR-IO/EX director James Melville.
Embassy Rome Leads by Example with Green Embassy Event
The League of Green Embassies (LoGE) is a U.S. Department of State initiative promoting international cooperation in energy efficiency and clean technologies. The League is a collaboration of the U.S. State Department and its embassies around the world; the Department of Energy; the Department of Commerce and U.S. cleantech exporters and international stakeholders. The “EE Sweep” project was initiated by LoGE with Department and Alliance to Save Energy support, and involved upgrading 12 European residences.
Over the past few years, the Embassy has stepped up our energy efficiency efforts. The installation of thermal windows and Uninterruptable Power Supply replacements on the Embassy compound have saved approximately $25k and $20k annually; new boilers generate 20% savings over older versions; and we have added several micro and hybrid vehicles to our motorpool fleet. We have also installed more efficient lighting, heating and air conditioning systems with ‘smarter,’ more environmentally friendly, intelligent building controls. The Embassy has a comprehensive recycling program, and we have installed motion sensors and compact fluorescent bulbs throughout the Chancery.
Ambassador David Thorne and Ambassador Bruce J. Oreck
The Villa Taverna Experience
The February 15 public event consisted of a press availability and reception at the official residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Italy, Villa Taverna, an elegant and historic 16th century villa set in one of the last large private gardens in Rome. Prior energy saving and sustainability improvements at Villa Taverna have included rainwater collection for use in the gardens, the planting of a large vegetable garden, and use of florescent lighting where possible.
As part of the EE Sweep effort, seven Alliance to Save Energy partner companies provided innovative technologies to improve efficiency and generate savings at Villa Taverna. These included new Light-Emitting Diode interior (from Philips) and exterior lighting (from Cree Inc.), thermostatic radiator valves (from Danfoss), water faucet aerators (from Niagara), high-efficiency washers, driers, refrigerators, wine cooler, and microwaves (from Whirlpool), high-performance nanotechnology window film (from 3M), and power strips (from Belkin) to eliminate phantom trickle charging by isolating TV and computer components. (Note: All but Danfoss and Philips are American companies, but American drivers are used in Philips’ LED bulbs.) The public event at Villa Taverna was timed to coincide with the February 17 Italian national “M’illumino di meno” (“I use less light”) energy efficiency consciousness-raising campaign, conducted annually by a popular national radio program on the national Radio2 Rai network.
Organizing this outreach event was a team effort, led by Management with support from the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS), Public Affairs, Regional Security office, and the Environment, Science, Technology and Health unit; the Department of Defense (DOD) also contributed examples of its greening efforts at U.S. bases in Italy. During the rollout reception, guests interacted with product vendors, Embassy and DOD representatives manning displays explaining their energy efficient technologies and efforts. An Embassy-produced video (now available on the Embassy website) highlighted the new technologies, and guests were given tours through the public and service areas of the residence to see installed examples. On the tour, guests walked under Murano chandeliers lit by 21st-century LED lighting, into the Ambassador’s kitchen and laundry, and were taken outside to see the exterior lighting.
An English version of Ambassador Thorne’s speech can be viewed at web page of the U.S. Embassy Italy. In his speech, the Ambassador highlighted how we all can contribute to a global effort to protect our environment by applying new technology to older buildings. The Ambassador highlighted ongoing and broader efforts being taken by the U.S. government (USG) in Italy to achieve efficiencies and to lower our carbon footprint in the Embassy and the three U.S. consulate buildings, as well as at U.S. military facilities in Italy. For example, when completed later this year, the new 151-acre U.S. military installation at Dal Molin, Vicenza, will become the first DOD installation to obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental (LEED) Silver certification for an entire on-campus project.
The Ambassador used the example of Villa Taverna to demonstrate that substantial efficiencies could be achieved using widely available innovative technologies, even in a historic building, without sacrificing aesthetics or comfort levels. He concluded by urging Italian and American companies to work together to increase the availability of these technologies. Ambassador Thorne also recognized Ambassador Oreck’s leadership of LoGE, and his role as the instigator of the residence makeover project. Ambassador Oreck credited President Obama for redefining America’s energy policy, and presented Ambassador Thorne with an award from the U.S. Green Building Council that recognized his efforts to set an example of energy efficiency at Villa Taverna.
During a pre-reception press availability, the Ambassador highlighted the energy efficiencies of the (mainly American) products installed at Villa Taverna. He highlighted broader USG energy savings efforts in Italy, and our intention to seek further energy efficiencies to our other government-leased and -owned residences. The Ambassador responded to a question on Iran’s threat to end oil shipments to six European countries by noting there are other sources of oil beyond Iran, emphasizing that energy efficiency increases energy security. Press reports also noted Ambassador Oreck’s statement that every barrel of oil saved through efficiency measures is equivalent to the production cost of two barrels of crude.
The Villa Taverna event generated favorable notice among our official and commercial contacts, as well as excellent press coverage. The event was covered in Greennews.info, a web magazine of centrist, influential daily La Stampa, dedicated to reporting “green thinking.” ANSA, the leading wire service in Italy, credited Ambassador Thorne for making Villa Taverna a model for energy saving. The Rome-based Democratic Party daily, Europa Quotidiano, reported the event as a fine example of 21st century public diplomacy to promote the environment and U.S. cleantech exports. Affari Finanza, a business newspaper, spotlighted Whirlpool’s contribution to Villa Taverna’s energy savings. After the event, PA posted videos from the event on social media sites, including interviews with the Ambassador and of guests and vendors, to coincide with the “M’illumino di meno” campaign.
FCS plans to use this event as a springboard for its Energy Efficiency Initiative to promote U.S.-Italy counter recessionary partnering opportunities and develop more business opportunities to confront the energy efficiency challenges in Italy.
We also look forward to working with the Department to leverage more savings with funds to continue LED lighting retrofits and to purchase and install solar arrays for the Mel Sembler Embassy office building roof, the Embassy carport, Villa Taverna’s pool, and the Naples consulate building. These efforts will take Mission Italy’s energy savings program to the next level. Post appreciates continued support from OBO and the Department for these efforts.
- 3M: Window film upgrades will provide security and block solar heat gain while allowing daylight to illuminate the residences’ interiors.
- Belkin: Energy-efficient ‘smart’ power strips and chargers designed to reduce energy usage by turning off accessories, such as televisions, that otherwise consume electricity while in standby mode.
- Cree: Efficient interior and exterior lighting to cut down electricity use and costs.
- Danfoss: Radiator valves with time-controlled thermostats connected to a remote-control system will reduce heat waste in non-occupied rooms throughout the house.
- Niagara Conservation: Water conservation products such as flow aerators to decrease water usage.
- Philips: Replacement of inefficient incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) will save at least 75% of the energy used while maintaining attractive light in the historical residences.
- Whirlpool: Appliances such as microwaves, ovens and other household necessities will be replaced with energy-efficient models. Appliances make up about 10-20% of home energy bills.
Ambassador David H. Thorne Remarks at Green Embassy Event, Rome, February 15, 2012, RadioDue (audio clip, in Italian, mp3, 1.1MB)
[Translation: Good Day. I am David Thorne, Ambassador of the United States of America to Italy. I am honored to present the energy saving program implemented in my residence. New devices have been installed to improve energy savings, and hopefully this will help us save up to 50% of our annual electricity bill. And at this particular time, I think that is very good news! We are also improving the energy efficiency of the Embassy’s offices in Via Veneto. In addition, we have even purchased hybrid cars that cause less pollution: sustainable hybrid cars. Mission Italy has joined the League of Green Embassies and we will actively participate in “M’illumino di meno”, the project organized by your radio program, on Friday 17 February. We urge all citizens to give their support to these kinds of initiatives. Thank you.]
Related press and media coverage:
- Obama opens the door to Europe’s green economy (“Obama apre le porte della green economy all’Europa”) (in Italian) (La Stampa, 02/21/2012)
- Whirlpool(.pdf, in Italian) Financial daily Finanza e Mercati covered the Green Embassy event. (Finanza e Mercati, p. 5, 02/16/2012)
- David Thorne’s Green Diplomacy (“La diplomazia verde di David Thorne”) (.pdf, in Italian) Democratic Party daily Europa extensively details the new technologies installed at Villa Taverna and quotes the Ambassador as saying that “a small quantity of saving in each house contributes to lessen our dependence on foreign sources.” (Europa, p.1, 02/16/2012)
- Energy efficiency and savings, Villa Taverna becomes ‘Green’ (“Energia: Efficienza e risparmio, Villa Taverna diventa ‘Green’”) (.pdf, in Italian) News agency ANSA covered the Green Embassy Event at Villa Taverna and highlighted the tremendous savings brought about by the new technologies. (ANSA, 02/15/2012)
- Energy: Thorne and savings from less dependence on foreign oil (“Energia: Thorne, con risparmio meno dipendenza da petrolio altrui”) (in Italian) News agency AGI covered the Green Embassy Event at Villa Taverna and highlighted the tremendous savings brought about by the new technologies. (Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, AGI, 02/15/2012)
- Villa Taverna goes ‘green’: U.S. Ambassador Thorne halves energy consumption (“Villa Taverna si fa ‘green’, l’ambasciatore Usa Thorne dimezza consume di energia”) (in Italian) News agency Adnkronos covered the Green Embassy Event at Villa Taverna and highlighted the tremendous savings brought about by the new technologies. (Adnkronos, 02/15/2012)
- The U.S. Embassy saving energy: Villa Taverna becomes green (“L’ambasciata Americana a risparmio energetic: Villa Taverna diventa green”) (in Italian) Online daily Blitz Quotidiano stresses “energy saving, ‘green economy’ and major autonomy from foreign sources: this is the triple meaning of the ‘green’ turning point at Villa Taverna.” (Bliz Quotidiano, 02/15/2012)
- U.S. Embassy: when diplomacy goes green (“Ambasciata Usa. Quando la diplomazia diventa green”) (in Italian) Elite centrist magazine Formiche covered the Green Embassy event. (Formiche, 02/15/2012)
- Ambassador David H. Thorne Remarks at Green Embassy Event, Rome, February 15, 2012 (U.S. Embassy Rome) (02/15/2012)
- Photo Stream: Green Initiative (U.S. Embassy Rome) (02/15/2012)
Visit the U.S. Embassy Rome website for more information.
Tags : 3M, Ambassador Bruce Oreck, Belkin, carbon footprint, cleantech, Cree, Danfoss, EE Sweep, energy efficiency, Environment, Innovations, League of Green Embassies, LED, LEED, Niagara Conservation, Philips, solar lightning, Solar panels, U.S. Ambassador David Thorne, U.S. Embassy Italy, Whirlpool, Wind Energy