The Netherlands Embassy and Consulates, United States

Embassies join together to focus on greening Washington, D.C.

Four years ago, the Royal Netherlands Embassy hosted the first Greening Embassies Forum and a pledge signing event in which diplomatic institutions, international organizations, and the D.C. government formed a partnership to make Washington, D.C. the most sustainable city in the country.

At that time, 47 embassies and three international organizations signed the pledge.

On October 5, more than 20 new international institutions joined the  D.C. Greening Embassies Forum, a partnership between the US Department of State, the Earth Day Network, District of Columbia and the diplomatic community.

Participating organizations have agreed to “pursue and promote programs, policies and projects aimed at advancing environmental quality, economic vitality and social equity in the District of Columbia,” as stated in the pledge.

Embassies are encouraged to become eligible for  LEED certificationfrom the  US Green Building Council. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification applies to buildings that are efficient with resources, which eventually reduces the organization’s carbon footprint.

LEED certifications have four rating levels: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The Dutch embassy was awarded with the LEED Silver certification in 2011, while the Consulate General of the Netherlands in San Francisco was awarded with a LEED Gold certification.

Embassies’ representatives gathered to inspire each other with new and innovative ideas about sustainability.

Dutch efforts to reduce energy use

Marcel van Doorn, Head of Internal and Consular Affairs of the Netherlands Embassy, joined colleagues from the Canadian and Finnish embassies in a panel discussion about their efforts to attain LEED certification.

Van Doorn detailed the embassy’s practices, which includes reducing light usage and instructing employees on ways to save energy. The embassy’s efforts have led to a reduction of 285 tons in greenhouse gas emissions per year.

The Netherlands Embassy strives to become climate neutral by 2020.

The Netherlands, Canadian and Finnish embassies discussed what other embassies are able to do to reduce their carbon footprint. In addition, the embassies shared their plans for the future, such as the use of solar energy and (shared) bike travel.

At the end of the evening, all representatives of the international institutions forming the D.C. Greening Embassies Forum signed the pledge, meaning they committed to fulfill the goals that are part of D.C.’s sustainability plan.