The “Energy Efficiency Sweep of Europe,” launched in November 2011 by the Alliance to Save Energy and the U.S. State Department’s League of Green Embassies, is nearing completion. In its wake, building makeovers are helping residences and offices of 10 U.S. ambassadors across Europe save energy and money.
In addition, the success of the program in Europe has inspired embassies in Washington, D.C., to promote and employ energy-saving efficient technologies. In fact, more than 40 embassies and international organizations joined with Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Under Secretary of the Department of State Patrick Kennedy on Jan. 31, 2012, to pledge to make their buildings and operations more sustainable.
“What we hope to do with the League of Green Embassies is to demonstrate to buyers in these cities that there are solutions that they can bring out into the commercial world,” said Keith Curtis, senior energy advisor in the Department of Commerce. “We then hope each city will copy these.”
The “Energy Efficiency Sweep of Europe” was inspired by the success of an energy-efficiency makeover of the historic Brussels residence of U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman, which was unveiled in April 2011 during the Alliance’s Energy Efficiency Global Forum (EE Global). Encouraged by the success of the Brussels makeover, which promoted international cooperation in energy efficiency and clean technologies, U.S. Ambassador to Finland and League of Green Embassies Chair Bruce Oreck announced the European “sweep,” an initiative that called for the replication of the Brussels makeover across Europe, beginning in November 2011. Their vision is that embassies should become platforms of energy innovations, showcasing the latest technologies that highlight best practices in energy efficiency.
Danfoss, a leading manufacturer of high-efficiency electronic and mechanical components and controls for air-conditioning, heating, refrigeration and motion systems, joined nine other private-sector companies (seven of them associate members of the Alliance to Save Energy) that together provided more than $145,000 in energy-efficient technologies to the Brussels project, including 25 living connect radiators from Danfoss and two Danfoss Link CC (central controllers).
Living connect thermostats are part of the living by Danfoss range of premium thermostats. Launched throughout Europe last May, the thermostats are designed to provide superior performance and comfort, while saving energy – as much as 23% – and costs. The thermostats work wirelessly throughout the home, allowing the ambassador to control the temperature in each of the rooms equipped with a thermostat from a single location, using the Danfoss Link CC. When combined with other energy-saving enhancements, the Danfoss products contributed to energy savings of more than 22% in the first week after the makeover unveiling and 31% in electricity costs over the 10 months following the renovation.
In addition to Brussels, energy-efficiency makeovers have also taken place at embassies in Rome, Italy; Vienna, Austria; Berlin, Germany; Paris, France; Bern, Switzerland; Bratislava, Slovakia; Lisbon, Portugal; Madrid, Spain; Sofia, Bulgaria; and Warsaw, Poland. In addition to Danfoss, Alliance Associates that supported the project include:
- 3M: Window film upgrades provide security and block solar heat gain while allowing daylight to illuminate the residences’ interiors.
- Cree: Efficient interior and exterior lighting cuts down electricity use and costs.
- Niagara Conservation: Water conservation products include flow aerators in all of the cities. In Bern, window and door weather-stripping materials and caulk will reduce 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, oven and other household necessities were replaced with energy-efficient models.
- Johnson Controls: A web portal provides information to measure the actual energy savings achieved.
“The list of U.S. companies involved in these makeovers and the savings they are helping to achieve underscore the importance of public-private sector relationships in energy efficiency initiatives,” says Lisa Tryson, director, corporate communications and public relations at Danfoss. “The same kinds of high-efficiency building products and services used in these embassy projects can help individuals, businesses and governments to save on utility costs and improve their environmental performance, even in existing homes or buildings.”
The League of Green Embassies recently reported that companies focused on sustainability outperformed their peers by 15% during the financial crisis. This indicates sustainability is a tool to make companies resilient, competitive, adaptive to challenges and more successful. The success of the embassy makeovers is still being measured. However, the projected energy savings are significant. In Rome, for example, energy efficiency technologies are expected to slash energy costs almost in half, saving $30,000 a year.
Projected energy savings for the embassies include:
45-76% on exterior lighting
23-46% on heating
4,400 gallons of water (the amount used for 350 loads of laundry)
528 gallons of oil, equivalent to six tons of avoided carbon dioxide (CO2).
“Success like this brilliantly illustrates the U.S. government leading by example,” said Tryson. “The embassy sweep program showcases available, proven technologies. It provides an opportunity to test, measure, verify and communicate results. And, as a high profile, international program, it portrays the U.S. State and Commerce Departments at their best – institutions with vision that know how to use their resources to highlight the potential for positive change around the world.”
Meanwhile, the League of Green Embassies continues to gain momentum, growing from just 30 members in 2011 to more than 85 members by early 2012. At the same time, embassies have become a powerful force for introducing innovative solutions, influencing individuals and institutions in host countries and mobilizing public opinion and action.