U.S. Embassy Lisbon, Portugal: Energy Efficiency Makeover December 7, 2011
Embassy Lisbon Committed to Greening
As a founding member of the League of Green Embassies, Embassy Lisbon has initiated several programs, which have reduced Post’s carbon footprint by an estimated 209 tons during 2008-2011. It organized public affairs events, formed an employee committee focused on green practices, and launched a new utilities gain-sharing program for employees in Embassy-leased housing. Post also actively participated in an Embassy Helsinki-led initiative to partner with American companies to upgrade the energy efficiency of Chief of Mission Residences in Europe. In December 2011, Post partnered with six American companies and hosted a reception at the Chief of Mission Residence, which was featured in Portugal’s largest circulation daily newspaper, to highlight the Embassy’s green initiatives. Post will continue its commitment to environmentally friendly upgrades to its operations in 2012.
Post Turns Over a New LEAF with Green Initiatives
Embassy Lisbon is a founding member of the League of Green Embassies and created the Lisbon Eco-Friendly Action Forum (LEAF) in 2008 to coordinate Embassy greening efforts and to encourage employees to adopt environmentally conscious measures at work and home. Since 2008, LEAF and post management have led the Embassy on numerous green initiatives.
- We placed recycling containers throughout the Embassy and in each office.
- We created a carpool program offering reserved premium parking to participants.
- We installed compact fluorescent light bulbs inside the Embassy and on the grounds.
- We installed motion sensor light switches in every office.
- We purchased more fuel-efficient vehicles.
- We installed humidity detectors on the lawn sprinkler system.
- We installed solar reflective window film on Embassy windows.
Post has also purchased Energy Star appliances for the Embassy and residences, replaced inefficient HVAC chillers with a magnetic levitation chiller and a heat replacement chiller, and replaced a 25-year-old boiler with two new fuel-efficient boilers. Based on these initiatives, we calculate that the Embassy directly reduced its carbon footprint by approximately 209 tons during 2008-2011.
Diplomacy Goes Green
In April 2010, Post cosponsored a day-long conference in Lisbon to showcase our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. The conference used the mission’s experiences, along with those of two other local institutions, to discuss lessons learned in making work places more environmentally friendly. More than 100 representatives from local government, NGOs, universities, and the military attended the conference. Participants commented that the conference was very useful and congratulated the Embassy on demonstrating the U.S. government commitment to address climate change through direct actions.
In March 2011, Ambassador Katz invited U.S. Ambassador to Finland and Chairman of the League of Green Embassies Bruce Oreck to visit Portugal to speak at a conference organized by the MIT-Portugal program and at a seminar organized by the University of Aveiro. Ambassador Oreck highlighted U.S.-Portugal partnerships in science and technology to an audience of enthusiastic students and energy sector professionals. On both occasions, Ambassador Oreck urged Portuguese youth to shape the future, while showcasing U.S. government efforts to promote green practices in our embassies. Ambassadors Katz and Oreck were interviewed by a national television program about Embassy green initiatives.
For more photos, visit League of Green Embassies’ Flickr set.
Post initiated a voluntary utilities gain-sharing program in July to encourage employees in Embassy-leased housing to reduce electricity, water, and gas consumption. The gain-sharing program operates on a semi-annual basis and credits employees with any utility cost savings beyond 5 percent of their utility bill from the previous six months. Post provides employees with their current six-month consumption rate and target rate. Due to inconsistency in Portuguese posting of utility bills, Post has not been able to meet its goal of providing periodic status updates. Regardless, at the end of the six-month period, Post will award employees 10 percent of any costs savings beyond the 5 percent target and present the biggest saver with the “Piggy Bank Award.”
Post also participated in a program led by Embassy Helsinki to install energy-efficient upgrades in the Chief of Mission Residence (CMR) during the fall of 2011. Partnering with six American companies, Post installed 3M solar window film on the south façade of the residence to reduce energy transfer from the sun’s rays, replaced lightbulbs throughout the residence with energy-efficient Philips LED lightbulbs, installed water conservation products from Niagara Conservation, installed energy saving power strips from Belkin, and replaced older appliances with new energy-efficient appliances from Whirlpool. Through a special pricing offer, Post will soon replace external security lighting at the CMR and the Embassy with low-consumption BetaLED lights.
Post invited representatives of the six American companies that participated in the CMR upgrade to highlight their products at a reception hosted by the Ambassador at the CMR on December 7. The event, which included representatives from the Portuguese government, NGOs, universities, and private companies, was covered exclusively by Portugal’s largest circulation daily newspaper, Correio da Manhã, and was featured on the Embassy website and Facebook page. Four companies set up product displays to demonstrate the energy-saving benefits of their products. During the reception, a representative of a U.S. Green Building Council member company presented the Ambassador with a plaque to recognize Post’s participation in the League of Green Embassies and the CMR initiative.
- 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.
- Niagara Conservation: Water conservation products include flow aerators to decrease water usage. And in Bern, window and door weather-stripping materials and caulk will reduce air leaks as well.
- 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.
Did you know?
Embassy Lisbon is actively engaged in a wide array of other greening activities. To find out more, visit links below:
- U.S. Embassy Lisbon LEAF program and Energy Efficiency Sweep overview (in English and Portuguese) (PDF 1.2MB)
Related press and media coverage
- USA Improves Energy Consumption (.pdf, in Portuguese) (“EUA melhoram consumo energético”) (Correio da Manhã, 12/8/2011)
- U.S. Ambassador Presents More Environmentally-Friendly Residence (U.S. Embassy Lisbon) (in Portuguese) (“Embaixador dos EUA Apresenta Residência Mais Amiga do Ambiente”) (12/2/2011)
Visit the U.S. Embassy Lisbon website for more information.