U.S. Embassy Amman Ramping Up To LEED Certification

Reducing State Department’s environmental footprint

Embassy Amman was opened in 1992.  Those familiar with LEED know it is much harder to get an existing building certified than new construction.

Mindful of severely limited natural resources, notably energy and water in Jordan, U.S. Embassy Amman has made a series of improvements over the past twenty years to reduce our water and energy consumption and to increase recycling.

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In the energy field, numerous improvements over the years have focused on:

  • Replacement of major electrical switch-gear Infrastructure
  • Installation of automatic transfer switches that resulting in improved power factors
  • Progressive installation of energy sensor lighting switches, which now  operate over 80 percent of the facility lighting
  • Replacement of mechanical cooling towers with ones that consume less energy and are more water efficient
  • Conversion of most of our lighting system into energy efficient LEED approved and environmentally friendly fixtures
  • We have also used natural light as much as possible to reduce dependence on electrical lighting
  • We only illuminate every other hall fixture during the day
  • We use solar panels to head the swimming pool
  • In 2009, we installed a Building Management System (BMS) with electronic micro processors that take advantage of varying demand levels for different services, on a daily and weekly basis.  The system reduced our energy consumption at the Embassy by 25 percent in the first year.
  • The BMS system also significantly improved the day-to-day operations of essential building equipment by reducing mechanical equipment operating time, and thereby lengthened operational life of such equipment.  This was accomplished by regulating and reducing mechanical equipment operation times during hours when much of the mission was closed.  During operating hours the system also ensures quality control for cooling and heating systems, adjusting the systems automatically based on ambient temperatures.  This replaced dependence on manually system adjustments and calibration, thus mitigating human dependency, and possible human error.

Despite an increase in staffing (our American and Jordanian staff have increased by over 30 percent since 2007), and an increase in built space in the Embassy facility of approximately 10 percent, our actual energy consumption is at the same levels now as it was in 2007.

Similarly our water consumption has actually declined since 2007, again all the more remarkable given the increased staffing and built space.

Embassy Amman is implementing the following techniques to reduce our water consumption:

  • We began to use desert landscaping and water conservation techniques including:
  • Planting ecologically and water friendly greenery on our compound, reduced the green planted space
  • Instituted a comprehensive water management program:  this includes dual flush bathroom fixtures throughout most of the complex, and water economizers in building faucets and shower heads.
  • In addition, our facilities team has increased awareness of water consumption among embassy personnel by posting friendly signage on the compound related to water conservation.
  • Changing behavior and increasing awareness is a crucial aspect of a successful Green program.  We have an active Green Team at our embassy, which advises the embassy community how to save water and energy at work and at home. They conduct contests, put out weekly “green tips” in our embassy newsletter, and schedule field trips to see how our waste gets recycled, among other things.

Almost all of our American personnel live in leased facilities.  We are actively engaged with our landlords in efforts to ensure effective energy and water management technologies are implemented at the residences we lease.

Finally, we are actively pursuing a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, (LEED) certification here at US Embassy Amman.  Our goal is to preserve the ecological integrity and enhance natural diversity, while supporting high-performance building operations. In this respect, our near term goal is to secure silver level certification under the LEED program.

By upgrading our Automated Building Maintenance System, Energy Management, and implementing Water Conversation strategies we will continue our progress towards our goal to obtain silver certification under the LEED for existing buildings program.

Helping the Department meet its greenhouse gas/paper reduction/waste reduction requirements

Another aspect of our efforts has been the expansion and success of our waste recycling efforts led by our green team over the past five years.  Last year alone we recycled approximately 80 percent of our waste, including:

111 Tons of Paper and Cardboard

5.5 Tons of Plastic

4.0 Tons of Cans

9.5 Tons of Glass

Recycling-BinEmbassy Amman’s General Service Office makes recycling bins out of used disposed crates! – Amman, 2012

Other materials: oil, printer’s and copier’s cartridges, vehicle batteries and other dry batteries of all sizes, pipes and metallic stuff, wood stuff and carpet tiles are being recycled as well! Through management notices and regular announcements in the news letter, the community is encouraged to bring their waste from home and dispose of it properly in the recycling containers at easy access all around the embassy compound.

We even started a “recycling peanuts program” by the mail room. A box is located by the mail room for people to dispose of their mail peanuts or grab some if they don’t have any.

Recycling BinAmman Green Team’s recycling peanuts program by the mail room – Amman, 2011

Illustrating Embassy Amman’s collaboration with host nation on greening efforts

Think Green is a specialized and highly reputable Green Building conference held on an annual basis in Amman, the capital city of Jordan.  It builds on the success of three previous events that helped promote green building principles and practices in Jordan, thus, enhancing the country’s overall sustainable economic development.  Think Green 4 was held on March 5 – 6, 2012.  To support this event, post participated in the event and was engaged through different outlets including three speakers and two participants:

  • During his visit to Jordan, PDAS Dan Clune talked about the Department of State’s Green Diplomacy Initiative and what efforts U.S. missions around the world are taking;
  • Counselor for Management Affairs spoke about Embassy Amman’s efforts to save energy and recycle;
  • Locally employed Facilities staff presented a case study on Adopting Passive House Design Principles in a Jordanian Housing Project;
  • The embassy also nominated two locally employed staff members from the Facilities Section to participate in the two day conference to learn firsthand the adoption of Green Building principles in Jordan and the region, as well as build connections and network with green business through sharing best practices in green building: design, construction and operation.

PDAS Clune speechPDAS Clune speaking at the Think Green 4 Conference about Greening Diplomacy Initiatives – Amman 2012

Demonstrating how the Department is “leading by example” in environmental sustainability

Amman Green team was born on September 10, 2008.  Ever since the team started new ideas and community activities have come to life.  Here are some of those activities that involve Americans and Local Staff and get them engaged in the local community to set an example of environmental consciousness and the spirit of volunteering:

Recycling Center Field Trip:

Entity Green Training (EGT) is a unique organization in the sense that it is one of two paper-recycling companies in Jordan and the only company recycling glass and PET plastics locally.  It is also a pro-profit, pro-poor company that originally provided low-income housing—established this center, the first and largest vocational training facility for Iraqi refugees in Jordan, training over 600 Iraqi men in highly demanded vocational trades.  Embassy Amman is using the services of EGT to recycle its waste.  Everything from paper, plastic, used oil, vehicle batteries, tires, pipes and metal and even carpet is recycled at this facility.  Every year the Amman Green Team organizes a field trip to the recycling center to show the community where their separated waste is processed and what is being done with it.  This is one of the Green Team’s most fun and successful annual trips that get everyone from children to their parents excited!

Composting in AmmanEmbassy Community at the Entity Green Training Center getting to know how composting is made and used to fertilize the canter’s garden – Ein Al Basha 2011

Welcome Potluck and Green Pledge:

Amman Green Team tries to take advantage of every community event at the embassy to recruit new team members!  Last year Facilities Management helped build a “Green Booth” out of used wood.  The booth is now a landmark at every event where people can know more about Amman Green Team and are asked to sign a green pledge!

Ambassador's Green PledgeAmbassador Stuart Jones taking the Green pledge! Amman 2011

Regular Town Hall Meetings:

The Amman Green Team is running a community contest during the month of April to celebrate Earth Day.  Employees are asked to submit their own green tips and the winners will get prizes and credit in the weekly newsletter as they are published. The Green Team works with the Community Liaison Office (CLO) and the Management Office to promote local community clean-up campaigns to get the Embassy Community involved.  We also organize clean-up campaigns for the embassy at embassy premises.

Community Clean up campaigns:

The Amman Green Team works with CLO and the Management Office to promote local community clean-up campaigns to get the Embassy Community involved.  We also organize clean-up campaigns for the embassy at embassy premises.

Trips to Jordan’s Nature Reserves:

Amman Green team plans four trips a year to the beautiful nature reserves in Jordan.  Last February and to celebrate World Water Day, the Team organized for a cycling trip at the Azraq Wet Lands Reserve!  Other locations include Ajloun Forest Reserve, Fenan Eco Lodge and Dana Biosphere Reserve.

Clean up campaign in AmmanClean-up campaign at Dana Biosphere Reserve – Dana 2011

Holiday Competition:

Kids participated in “make your own holiday ornament” competition in 2010.  This year, we have a professional “upcycler” who will give a class in making ornaments out of refuse for our Club Christmas tree!

Celebrating Significant Dates:

The Green Team encourages the community to take part in local events around Jordan celebrating the love for earth.  Events include:  Earth Hour, Earth Day, the Arab Environment Day…etc.

Advancing bilateral and /or regional cooperation on sustainable development and business operations

Exchange of Tips and Practices between Embassy Amman’s Green Team and other regional posts in the Middle East and North Africa is nothing new!  Embassy Amman encouraged and assisted other posts to start their own green teams (Kuwait and Jeddah) as well as presented at other posts their experience and success stories (Baghdad).

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