State Magazine April 2014 : Page 22
By Donna McIntire, chief of Energy and Sustainable Design (OBO Green Team), Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations Green Team OBO promotes posts’ eco-diplomacy Secretary of State Kerry meets with the OBO Green Team in recognition of the Exceptional Employees Award. Photo by Michael A. Gross Secretary of State John Kerry recently met with the Green Team of the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) to recognize how it has helped overseas facilities improve sustainability and reduce resource use. He also signed a copy of the team’s second edition of the “Guide to Green Embassies: Eco-Diplomacy in Operation” (http:// overseasbuildings.state.gov/green_guide/). For years, the team has been producing tools for posts to manage legacy buildings, providing technical support for post projects to improve energy and water efficiencies, and serving as the catalyst for greening our new construction projects. More than 20 facilities are now certified under the internationally recognized LEED®: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system. As the Green Team sees it, posts seeking to go green need committed champions empowered by management to lead, must collaborate with key partners and should communicate and recognize achievements. Approximately 150 posts have green teams, which are composed of a small but committed staff. They need management support and the tools to maintain momentum and deliver successful results. The “Guide to Green Embassies” and companion “Post Green Team Toolkit” were developed to equip posts’ green teams and advocates with best practices, case studies and lessons learned, so as to minimize duplicative efforts, increase environmental impact, help change behavior and support the Department’s Greening Diplomacy Initiative (GDI). The guide is a “green cookbook” of strategies to manage 20 STATE MAGAZINE // APRIL 2014 transportation, sites, water, energy, materials, indoor environment and residential properties, and has guidance on occupant behavior and staff engagement. The toolkit offers techniques for enlisting team members, gaining management approval and adopting a charter and guiding principles, plus information on developing a work plan, maintaining momentum, educating peers and delivering results. According to Shannon Petry of the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh’s Green Team, “One of the challenges we face is sustaining our environmental initiatives when green team members depart post for their next tour, taking two or three years of knowledge and experience—and relationships with helpful local contacts—with them. It can feel like we have to reinvent the wheel.” The two guides help new members get up to speed. Ronald Acuff of Embassy Monrovia’s Green Team agreed, noting that the collected green wisdom in the guides keeps his team going. “We are all excited and believe in what we’re doing, but we need support in keeping the momentum going over time,” he observed. Information, expertise, and partnerships are essential for green team growth, expansion and success. For instance, the green team at the U.S. Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua, sought collaboration with key internal and external partners to install the Department’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) array. They attributed their success to OBO’s expertise and funding received from Lockheed Martin, a company able to perform what’s known as an Energy Savings Performance Contract.