League of Green Embassies


In 2007, Embassy Lisbon, a first mover in the League, drove its process by setting up the Lisbon Eco-friendly Action Forum, LEAF. It was clear that for the program to achieve its goals of reducing operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency, all Embassy staff—officers, managers, foreign service nationals-- would have to be involved. In addition, LEAF is a multi-agency effort, with the U.S. Commercial Service collaborating closely with the State Department and others to promote change, working to reduce the carbon footprint of embassy buildings, and advising the Ambassador on how to achieve that goal. Mr. Victor Madeira, a local employee provides continuity for the multi-year program, is a highly active participant in the process. U.S. Ambassador Thomas Stephenson, and now U.S. Ambassador Allen Katz are both fully committed to the effort.

As one of its first steps, LEAF went out to all embassy staff asking for suggestions and exciting interest in the program. LEAF received over 100 ideas in this way. Each recommendation is vetted for cost and benefit. Then a plan was created to capture the low-hanging fruit of the eco-efficiency program. The embassy: created additional spaces for car-pooling cars; switched from incandescent to compact florescent bulbs; installed power strips for computers and other appliances and motion sensors for automatic operation of lights in the buildings. Fourteen of the 25 recommendations that had been made in a 1997 energy audit were implemented, and the rest were reviewed. A new audit was requested.

By 2008, the LEAF team, consisting of 8-10 dedicated members, was able to expand the program. They arranged for the Embassy, which in that budget cycle needed to replace equipment, to make greener procurement choices. The Embassy upgraded the vehicles in its motor pool, to clean diesel—which uses ultra-low sulfur diesel, or ULSD, and reduced the number of vehicles in the fleet; retrofitted its HVAC system with MagLevTM (Magnetic Levitation) technology; installed a humidity sensor to control lawn watering; purchased energy star appliances; and installed a new boiler that is 50% more efficient than the old one. The Green Team of State’s Overseas Building Operations assisted with some of the retrofits. The LEAF team overhauled the existing recycling program, increasing the number of receptacles, and arranging for the contractor to better segregate recycled items (at no additional cost).

By 2010, energy, water and fuel use in embassy properties and on embassy grounds have measurably and predictably improved:

  • Reduced electricity consumption by 15%
  • Reduced diesel fuel consumption for heating by 27%
  • Reduced water consumption by 16%
  • Reduced kilometers driven by 22%
  • Reduced carbon foot print by approximately 230 tons (CO2eq).
  • Saved approximately $50,000

Makeover Event

On December 7, Ambassador Katz hosted a reception for inaugurating the installation of new technologies from 3M, Phillips, Whirlpool, and Belkin.

The League of Green Embassies is a USG initiative promoting energy efficiency in the green building sector by retrofitting U.S. embassies with the most efficient technologies. Embassies are a powerful force for introducing innovative solutions, influencing individuals and institutions in host countries, and play an important role in mobilizing public opinion and action. The vision of the League, a collaboration of the departments of State and Commerce, is to stimulate economic growth, promote green building exports by demonstrating the effectiveness of U.S. technologies, and stimulate U.S. investment in clean energy and environmental technologies, while addressing energy security. The League reflects the commitment of its 70 members to reduce operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions of embassies and related properties. Membership is open to foreign embassies. The League was established in 2007 by Michael M. Wood, former U.S. Ambassador to Sweden.

Since November 2010, the League has been chaired by Ambassador Bruce J. Oreck, U.S. Ambassador to Finland. Fourteen U.S. companies working in the green building space have signed up for a Platinum Key Service. In March of 2011, League activity centered on a “makeover” of the residence of Ambassador Howard Guttman. His residence is the oldest U.S. property among the embassies, and now a forward sales platform for U.S. technologies and products. During the next weeks and months, eleven Chief of Mission residences will be undergoing similar makeovers. See http://www.leagueofgreenembassies.org.