By Peter Brukx
At an event celebrating Earth Day, April 21, Under Secretary of State for Management and the Department of State’s Chief Sustainability Officer John Bass announced the winners of the Department’s 2022 Greening Diplomacy Initiative (GDI) Awards. These awards help identify best practices from around the world that support U.S. government-wide sustainability and climate goals.
The GDI Award for Excellence in Team Sustainability Performance went to Embassy Baku. The embassy expanded its recycling program; became the first diplomatic mission in Azerbaijan to purchase a fully electric vehicle; began informing residents of their utility consumption and ways to reduce their energy and water use; installed an air quality monitor; and planted 355 trees, one for each of their locally engaged (LE) staff members.
More than 1,400 Department personnel voted for their top picks for the People’s Choice Award for Team Sustainability Performance, electing the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA). CA converted the paper inserts mailed with new passport issuances into QR code stickers, eliminating approximately 20,000 boxes and 600,000 pounds of material per year and saving the Department approximately $1 million annually. This effort also reduced the Department’s environmental footprint by eliminating emissions associated with transportation of the paper inserts.
The GDI Awards for Excellence in Individual Sustainability Leadership went to Jenna Faupel in the domestic U.S. direct hires category, Olivia Fisher in the overseas U.S. direct hires category, and Naresh Jindal in the LE staff category.
Faupel, an energy manager with the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, pioneered the Department’s transition to EnergyCAP, a system that automates capturing data from utility bills. She helped enroll 244 posts where data is captured from more than 630 service providers in 45 languages and 106 currencies. Faulpel, who also started analyzing utility bills within the system, has already saved $74,000 annually, and has identified more than $500,000 in potential annual savings.
Fisher, the facility manager at Embassy Asunción, established multiple metrics to develop a power demand profile to plan out energy efficiency projects. She oversaw the creation of the embassy’s Zero Waste Program which works collaboratively with the local community to ensure proper recycling. Fisher also incorporated sustainable policies into her team’s practices for green cleaning, preventative maintenance, and more.
Jindal, an engineer and supervisor of the Resource Conservation Unit at Embassy New Delhi, led the embassy’s effort to dramatically reduce their carbon footprint in 2021 by implementing a water recovery system. The system helped save almost 70,000 gallons of water in the first five months of the project, which expects to save 2.1 million gallons annually. He also led efforts to implement several energy saving initiatives, including LED lighting transition and installing solar lights and water heaters. Jindal also established a waste recycling center at his post, which recycled 105 tons and brought in $35,000 in 2021. Those funds are being invested in other greening efforts.
Peter Brukx is the eco-pathways intern in the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions.