Delegation of the European Union 
to the United States

Go Green

06/07/2018 - 00:36

The European Union, together with, Golden Triangle, and NK Architects, is proud to present the #IceBoxChallengeDC.

What is the Ice Box Challenge?

The #IceBoxChallengeDC is a contest and an experiment to demonstrate how a home can be energy efficient and comfortable. From July 7-20, two small structures, or "Ice Boxes," will be on display in Farragut Square in Washington, D.C. (912 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20006). 

One Ice Box is built to the standard building code and the other is built to a higher performance building standard—the Passive House standard. Each Ice Box will be filled with 1,800 pounds of ice and left outside in the sun for two weeks. When they are opened, the amount of ice left in each box will be measured. How much ice is left shows how well each Ice Box keeps out the summer heat. Better building design can help us reduce our carbon pollution without changing our behavior. Energy-efficient homes are comfortable, quiet, and healthy. Learn more about high performance buildings. 

Take the Ice Box Challenge

We invite you to come to Farragut Square from July 7-20 to see first-hand how simple solutions—better seals, smarter windows, and more efficient insulation—can go a long way toward reducing energy consumption. 

Take the Ice Box Challenge and join us on Friday, July 20th at 12:30pm in Farragut Square at the big reveal to see how much ice remains after two weeks. Winners will win a prize courtesy of the Belgian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

As part of our commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, the European Union will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% (from 1990 levels) by the year 2030. Adopting the highly energy-efficient Passive House (Passivhaus) standard and improving the energy performance of our homes and buildings are practical steps toward reaching that goal.

In Brussels, Belgium—headquarters of the European Union—the Passive House standard was adopted as the building code in 2015, making it the first region in the world to require such a stringent standard.

In the EU, we're already seeing the benefits of new energy efficiency measures:

  • Less Energy Consumption: New buildings use half the energy of older buildings.
  • Lower Energy Costs: Reduced household energy bills in renovated buildings help combat energy poverty.
  • Better Quality of Life:Improved air quality and noise reduction makes buildings healthier and more comfortable.
  • Economic Growth:New jobs in construction, manufacturing, research, and other industries investing in energy efficiency.

Learn more about the EU's commitment to energy efficiency here.

The European Union played a key role in brokering the world's first universal, legally binding climate deal in Paris in December 2015. Today, the EU is continuing to lead global efforts to deliver on the Paris Agreement—including here at the EU Delegation in Washington, D.C.

“Ensuring sustainability is in our DNA as citizens of the European Union, but it is also our duty as residents of the city of Washington and as advocates for a clean planet to promote environmentally conscious solutions in every way we can.” –David O'Sullivan, EU Ambassador to the United States

From installing energy-saving light sensors and water heaters to investing in solar energy, the EU Delegation in Washington, D.C., has been going green for years. Here are a few ways we've worked to reduce our carbon footprint at the local level:

Achieving LEED Gold & EPA Energy Star Certifications

As a major tenant of 2175, we’ve worked closely with our landlord to earn the building the EPA Energy Star Awardto complement its existing LEEDGold Status from the United States Green Building Council. 

Reducing Energy Consumption

We have installed light sensors throughout the Delegation to automatically shut off lights after a certain amount of time when no movement is detected. Our new energy-efficient water heaters have been equipped with timers to shut off after business hours. We regularly encourage our staff to reduce energy consumption by powering off their computers at night, closing their window shades, and only running the dishwasher when it's full. 

Recycling & Donating Used Items

The Delegation provides commercial-standard recycling bins for each office, kitchen, and conference room with signs urging visitors to recycle. Twice a year the Delegation participates in an e-cycling event to recycle out-of-date IT equipment. Staff members are encouraged to bring in used electronics to be repurposed or donated. We have also partnered with local charities to donate gently used furniture to those in need

Encouraging Alternative Modes of Transportation

We have dedicated bike parking in our underground parking garage, providing a convenient and secure area for staff members biking to work to store their bicycles. The Delegation also has two dedicated shower rooms with staff access to a full locker room and gym in the building. In 2017, we also started offering Capital Bikeshare passes to Delegation staff to use to travel to and from meetings in the city, reducing the need for car transportation.

Forming a Greening Committee

We formed an EU Delegation greening committee comprised of one staff member from each section within the Delegation. The committee generates new ideas for sustainability at the local level, monitors progress on ongoing initiatives, and works with local community, government, and non-profit organizations on sustainability and environment conservation projects.

Restoring the Chesapeake Bay

The EU Delegation joined the U.S. Department of State, the World Bank, and more than a dozen embassies at Mason Neck State Park in Lorton, Virginia on World Environment Day in 2017, to plant underwater seagrasses in the Potomac River. As part of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Grasses for the Masses program, the Delegation, along with member state embassies Finland, Germany, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain, spent over six months carefully nurturing the grasses in an effort to help restore the Bay.

We recognize that this is just the beginning and we are working on several initiatives to further reduce waste and minimize our impact on the environment, including:

  • Working on earning LEED Platinum Status, the highest LEED certification level
  • Further reducing energy consumption by replacing all light bulbs with LED lights
  • Eliminating the use of all non-sustainable items at events and meetings hosted at the Delegation
  • Encouraging the use of environmentally-friendly hotels and catering services
  • Reducing printing waste

Read more about our greening initiatives and staff participation in sustainability in this article on Medium.

Editorial Sections: