Reception in honor of The DC Greening Embassies Forum
Embassy of France, June 17, 2013
It is a real pleasure for my team and for me to welcome you today to the French Embassy for this meeting of the D.C. Greening Embassies Forum – which we are delighted to host for the second time!
I would first like to warmly thank the D.C. municipality and the U.S. Department of State for bringing us together in 2012 and for encouraging us since then to enhance our green profile and to meet regularly in order to exchange our experiences. I am particularly honored and pleased to welcome Mr Keith Anderson, Director of the District Department of the Environment representing Mayor Gray.
Today, our staff once again had a fruitful discussion, this time on green roofs and energy efficiency, two areas in which the French Embassy has taken recent initiatives.
And indeed I am delighted to inaugurate with you our Green Embassy project’s latest accomplishment: our first green roof!
Unfortunately, it was not possible for security reasons to bring you all on to the roof but I encourage you to ask my staff to take you to see it from the nearby slope in a few moments.
I said our first green roof, because two out of the three remaining roofs will soon be “greened” as well. The last one cannot be vegetalized for security reasons, but it will have a solar system that will help us save energy by heating our water.
These roofs will reduce storm water runoff, improve the thermal and acoustic insulation of the building and help to provide a more pleasant working environment for our staff. Finally, these roofs are a symbol of our enthusiasm for sustainability.
Let me first thank my team, who made this project possible, and in particular, Estelle Delfosse, Jacques Delfosse and Ronan Heritier.
A particular word of thanks also to Furbish and its president, Michael Furbish, the company that designed and installed the roof and is maintaining it for us.
Finally, I would like to extend my warmest thanks to the D.C. administration for its technical and financial support for this program, particularly the District Department of the Environment and Anacostia Watershed Society whose president, Jim Foster, is with us tonight. Without you, we would not have been able to complete this great project.
As you may know, the District Department of the Environment provides financial support for green roofs, and, more broadly, for sustainability. It is a real pleasure and a daily privilege to live and work in such a dynamic city!
More broadly, thanks to the DC Greening Embassies Forum and to the D.C. municipality, we have made huge progress in recent years in implementing our green embassy project.
We installed a new Building Automated System (BAS) to help regulate the heating and cooling of the building, and 75% of our lighting has been replaced with more energy-efficient technology. In 2 years, following an initial investment of $300,000, we were able to save nearly $200,000 on our energy bill! So as you can see, it’s environmentally-friendly, it’s good for the planet, and it saves a lot of money.
We also introduced efforts to recycle our waste, and bought 3 electric bikes. Indeed, we are quite far from the city center. This means that we have the benefit of beautiful grounds, but our daily trips to meetings generated a high level of carbon emissions. We have calculated that in less than 2 years, the bikes paid for themselves through savings in taxi and parking bills.
Finally, these green roofs, and more broadly our Green Embassy project, are a symbol of the French government’s commitment to sustainable development. Let me give you two examples.
First, France has offered to host the United Nations conference on climate change in 2015 to help broker an agreement on the reduction of CO2 emissions after 2020. This is a huge challenge, and it is a top priority for my Government, and more generally for Europe. As we speak, this topic is being discussed by our leaders at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland.
Second, the French Government just initiated a national debate on our energy transition strategy for the future, based on two principles: energy efficiency and renewable energies. Many difficult questions still remain to be answered: what is the right energy mix? Which renewable energy sources should we promote, and how?
That’s what the national debate is all about. It is open to everyone in France, taking place from January to July 2013, and aims at drafting the most comprehensive roadmap for our energy future.
But I don’t want to talk for too long. Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Mr Keith Anderson, Director of the District Department of the Environment.
Click here for more pictures of the inauguration