Earlier this month, in recognition of the United Nation's World Environment Day, the D.C. Greening Embassies Forum brought together foreign embassies and international institutions with solution providers who can help them achieve their energy and sustainability goals.
The D.C. Greening Embassies Forum is comprised of the diplomatic community in our nation's capital, and brings together the sustainability priorities of the city of Washington, D.C., with those of the foreign missions who rely upon the city's resources. The State Department's Greening Council helped facilitate the first-ever charter among these foreign embassies, which states that its signatories will strive to make their buildings and operations more sustainable, will support the city's efforts, and will share best practices on greening and sustainability.
The Forum's World Environment Day event reflected a true spirit of collaboration and discussion. The exposition featured a series of panels that addressed specific areas of concern expressed by the embassies, including how to identify cost-efficient steps towards implementing greening efforts and how to incorporate energy efficiency and cleaner energy sources into their exisiting operations. The panels included representatives from the federal and D.C. governments and subject-matter experts who develop energy saving technologies.
Many embassy representatives repeatedly raised the idea of "behavior" as a challenge to achieving their goals. As one participant noted, an embassy can install energy saving technology, but half -- or more -- of the battle is behavioral change. Brian Keane, President of Smart Power, spoke about organizations creating internal campaigns that communicate best practices to employees and incentivize more responsible behavior that encourages better energy saving practices.
"Every single person, every one of us, can actually be part of the energy solution. The best way to be part of that solution is to start using less...[energy]," Keane said.
Over 30 embassies and 50 businesses attended the event, which was organized in coordination with the Business Council for International Understanding and the League of Green Embassies, hosted by Lockheed Martin at their Global Vision Center, and sponsored by 3M, Lutron, and LG. In his remarks to those gathered at the event, Dr. Ray Johnson, Chief Technology Officer for Lockheed Martin Corporation commented on the broader implications of these issues. Dr. Johnson observed, "We found that energy is actually a global security issue for many governments around the world. Energy security, sustainability, safe food, water: they're all tied to energy and they're all very important to nations around the world."Editor's Note: You can learn more about the State Department's Greening Diplomacy Initiative here.
Katie G. Kirkpatrick is a program analyst in the Under Secretary of Management's Office of Policy, Rightsizing, and Innovation. She also serves as the events coordinator for the State Department's Greening Council, which helped organize the 6K Walk for Water.