That we all need to get smarter about how we use energy is one of the messages that Danish diplomats deliver to decision makers around the world these days, as one the priorities of the Danish Presidency is to promote green and sustainable growth.
To support this green mission, a number of Danish embassies in 2008 decided to put their own houses in order so to speak, by implementing energy savings measures themselves. By addressing the issue of energy efficiency not merely by talking about it, but by taking concrete action, the message that we all indeed can do something to reduce our CO2 emissions becomes all the more credible.
Committed to reductions
Subscribing to the truism that actions indeed do speak louder than words, the Green Embassy Network today comprises 36 embassies from Ouagadougou to Tokyo.
The embassies have committed themselves to implementing energy saving measures. Embassies are obliged to reduce energy consumption typically by 1.5 per cent per year.
Depending on local conditions the reduction target is met by focusing on:
• Responsible and energy efficient behaviour by embassy staff
• Energy efficient procurement policy
• Energy efficiency as part of the daily operation of the embassy.
By analysing the energy saving potential of e.g. IT equipment, air conditioning systems, copying machines, and TV sets, energy consumption can be reduced significantly and often well beyond the 1.5 per cent. Results thus far show that reduction on electricity consumption around 10-15 per cent from year to year, while some embassies have managed to reduce consumption by as much as 52 per cent.
On average the member embassies reduced electricity consumption by 12 per cent from 2008 to 2009 and by an additional 14 per cent from 2009 to 2010.
Many embassies go beyond the standard requirements by implementing more creative energy saving measures. By example, the embassies in Cairo and Beirut have used green bicycle couriers – a concept from Copenhagen - for local dispatches to promote sustainable transport and demonstrate that Denmark is a global green frontrunner.
In Managua (Nicaragua) the embassy has painted the roof of the embassy building white to reduce heat absortion, and the embassy in Kampala (Uganda) is de facto CO2 neutral by way of a 5-year agreement that neutralizes the carbon emissions of the embassy by buying car- bon credits from forestry- and recycling projects in Uganda. The concrete actions and the actual results achieved go to show that the members of the Green Embassy Network have indeed walked the talk by cutting energy consumption substantially.
The future of the network
When established back in 2008, the network numbered 16 Danish embassies. Today, that number has more than doubled, and the hope is to keep up the growth rate and have even more embasssies walk the green talk.