Delegation of the European Union 
to the United States

Go Green

06/07/2018 - 00:36

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.

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 Award to complement its existing LEED Gold 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 Twice a year the Delegation participates in an e-cycling event to recycle out-of-date IT equipment.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 Task Force

We formed an EU Delegation greening task force 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.

Cleaning up the Anacostia River

On October 13, 2018, more than 100 EU Delegation staff and colleagues from 9 EU Member States (Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Sweden) joined Ocean Conservancy for their flagship International Coastal Cleanup event on Kingman Island in Washington, D.C. A record-setting 4,828 pounds of trash was collected by 476 volunteers in just two hours.The EU Delegation's participation in the cleanup was part a global effort of more than 60+ EU Delegations around the world to clean up beaches, rivers, and lakes.


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.


The Ice Box Challenge 

The EU Delegation, in partnership with the Embassy of Belgium, Golden Triangle BID, Nicholson Kovalchick (NK) Architects, the Office of the Secretary of Washington, D.C., and the District Department of Energy and the Environment, presented the #IceBoxChallengeDC, a public science experiment to demonstrate how buildings can be energy efficient and comfortable. Two small structures, or "Ice Boxes," were filled with 1,800 pounds of ice in each and left in the sun for two weeks. One Ice Box was built according to the standard building code and the other was built according to the highly energy-efficient Passive House standard. Brussels, Belgium—home to the European Union's headquarters—became the first city in the world to require the Passive House standard for all new construction. Learn more about the Ice Box Challenge in this Medium story.

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