London’s embassies go green
Friday 27 November 2015
On Friday 27 November, representatives from thirteen of London’s foreign embassies attended a ‘green seminar’ at the French Ambassador’s residence in Kensington.
The seminar was held three days before the opening of the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), which takes place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December.
The French Embassy presented its “Environmental Charter”, launched in May 2015, and which in August this year saw the embassy and French Consulate switch to 100% green electricity.
Representatives from thirteen other countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and USA) shared insights into what they are already doing to limit their environmental impact. Examples included solar roof panels, LED bulbs, infra-red detection lighting systems and a green roof with its own bee colony.
A presentation was given by the architect and engineer responsible for the green transformation of the Austrian Embassy, which was completed in 2013. They explained how the embassy, a Grade I Listed Building, has achieved significant energy savings thanks to improved glazing and roof insulation, increased boiler efficiency and the installation of solar panels on the roof.
Attendees also heard from representatives from Ecotricity, the French Embassy’s energy supplier. In 1995 Ecotricity became the world’s first green electricity company, providing 100% green electricity and frack-free gas to households and businesses around the UK.
The seminar was opened by the French Ambassador to the UK, Sylvie Bermann. She said: “The Paris climate summit, which starts on Monday, will be a defining moment for the future of humanity as we look to reach a global deal on climate change.
“As the host, France has been determined to set an excellent example by turning its embassies around the world green.
“Here at our London Embassy, we have already seen great improvements in our energy efficiency and we are very proud to now be operating on 100% green electricity. It is fantastic to see so many other embassies and high commissions in London contributing to the fight against global warming too.”
The French Embassy has taken a number of simple actions aimed at reducing its carbon footprint, such as installing more recycling points around the building, giving priority to videoconferences over traditional meetings and encouraging the use of public transport for hosting delegations.
The French Ambassador’s new official car is a Peugeot 508 hybrid, and by next year three new vehicles will be equipped with low CO2-engines.