U.S. Embassy Vienna, Austria: Energy Efficiency Makeover May 10, 2012

Embassy Vienna opened the doors to Ambassador Eacho’s “green” residence on May 10 with a gala dinner event, an exhibit by green-technology companies and an electric car and bike show. The Embassy used the makeover to highlight U.S. government commitment to climate change solutions, and to successfully demonstrate the use of innovative clean energy technologies. Embassy Vienna worked closely with the League of Green Embassies coordinator Embassy Helsinki. The gala was scheduled to coincide with the Green World Forum taking place in Vienna, an international conference of environment experts.

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PA invited Gerry Braun, renewable energy expert and director at the UC Davis Energy Institute, to speak at the League of Green Embassies Gala and to give a keynote speech at the Green World Forum the next day.  Nobel Prize Laureate Betty Williams, the president of the Green World Forum, was a guest of honor at the Embassy gala.  More than 100 international business representatives, government representatives, policy makers, and high level Embassy contacts attended the gala.  The Austrian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Wolfgang Waldner represented the Austrian government. A few months ago, Waldner opened Austria’s first green Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, after Austria joined the League of Green Embassies.

Ambassador Eacho led the attending media on a tour of the exhibiting companies’ information stands, showcasing the many energy-efficient improvements in the residence building, and the electric cars and motorcycles displayed in front of the residence. The Embassy motor pool was equipped with new Chevy Volt electric vehicles that were on display. The Embassy also opened the gala presentation to companies that were not directly involved in the residence makeover and the motor pool’s electric car upgrade. The Tesla roadster was a big draw for all guests, as were the electric motorbikes that the Ambassador could not resist test driving.

The media reported widely and favorably on the League of Green Embassies gala. Austrian National TV aired a report on its evening news; the Austrian tabloid with Europe’s largest readership “Kronenzeitung” featured a full-page article, as did the Austrian Press Agency.

While Ambassador Eacho’s residence was offered as a showcase, the Embassy’s energy efficiency efforts went well beyond the residence. At the Embassy’s chancery building on Boltzmanngasse and at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to UNVIE, the carbon footprint was reduced by installing more efficient lighting, heating and air conditioning, and new insulated windows. As part of Embassy Vienna’s energy efficiency “sweep,” the following actions were taken: better lighting, using LED technology from Philips indoors and by installing Beta LED/Cree Exterior lights; more efficient appliances from Whirlpool; smart radiator valves from Danfoss; insulating window film from 3M, to keep heat in during the winter and keep the indoors cooler in the summer.

The Embassy organized 14 product representatives to participate in the makeover event by setting up information displays throughout the residence that demonstrated dozens of innovative green technologies for guests and the media. Outside the residence, electric car companies showed their latest electric car models and motor bikes.Guests and company representatives both welcomed the opportunity for networking and exchanging information on the latest products in the green technology market.

U.S. Embassy Vienna APAO Gerry Braun with Betty WilliamsU.S. Embassy Vienna APAO Gerry Braun with Nobel Prize Laureate Betty Williams

Contributing Vendors

  • 3M: Window film provides security and blocks solar heat gain while allowing daylight to illuminate the residences’ interiors.
  • Belkin: Energy-efficient ‘smart’ power strips and chargers reduce energy usage by turning off accessories, such as televisions, that otherwise consume electricity while in standby mode.
  • Cree: Efficient exterior lighting cuts down electricity use and costs.
  • Danfoss: Radiator valves with time-controlled thermostats connected to a remote-control system 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) save at least 75% of the energy used while maintaining attractive light in the historical residences.
  • Whirlpool: Appliances such as refrigerators and washers were replaced with energy-efficient models. Appliances make up about 10-20% of home energy bills.

Related Press and Media Coverage

  • U.S. Ambassador Eacho Presents his ‘Green’ Residence (Austrian Press Agency, 5/11/2012) The Austrian Press Agency (Apa) reports and describes how the diplomatic mission in Vienna has now been environmentally friendly equipped. APA reports on the “League of Green Embassies Reception,” Thursday evening, and how the Ambassador proudly demonstrated the latest energy saving technologies installed in the Hietzing residence. In the presence of Austrian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner, Eacho stated that President Obama had announced the US goal to improve the energy efficiency of America’s government buildings and save through investments in new technologies up to $40 billion annually in energy cost and create new jobs at the same time. Apa writes that “The League of Green Embassies” is a global network of nearly 100 U.S. and Foreign Missions. Austria also plays in that “League” with its Embassy building in Jakarta.
  • Greening of the U.S. Embassy in Vienna (in German) (“USA in Wien wird ‘grüner’”) (ORF TV, 5/11/2012) On ORF TV, prime time regional news for Vienna on Friday reported that the residence of the U.S. Ambassador in Austria “has become greener.” The building has installed a number of environmental-technology devices, such as energy-friendly light bulbs. At a gala event last week, the U.S. Embassy also “presented the latest in electric cars and motorcycles. Companies banking on green jobs demonstrated how they put the premises’ lighting and heating systems on an energy-saving course.” U.S. Ambassador William Eacho told ORF TV that “we’ve already cut our energy consumption by more than 30 percent. And we intend to cut even more with other energy-saving projects.
  • U.S. Ambassador as ‘Eco-Biker’ (in German) (“US-Botschafter als ‘Öko-Biker”) (Kronenzeitung, p. 18, 5/12/2012) Article in mass-circulation tabloid Kronenzeitung, which is Austria’s most influential print media with an estimated readership on weekends of more than 1.3 million. View article translation here.

Visit the U.S. Embassy Vienna website for more information.