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Green Diplomacy

Reid Deaver, facility manager at the Resource Conservation Unit of the U.S. Embassy New Delhi, talks about the greening initiatives being undertaken on its facilities.

The United States is committed to working with India and its partners around the globe on preserving natural resources and leaving a cleaner world for future generations. Thus, U.S. Embassy New Delhi and Consulates General Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata all strive to be responsible members of their host communities by finding innovative ways of managing waste and promoting efficient use of resources.

Here are excerpts from an interview with Reid Deaver, facility manager at the Resource Conservation Unit of the U.S. Embassy New Delhi, on some of the greening initiatives currently undertaken on its facilities.


When and how did the journey of Green Team begin at the U.S. Embassy New Delhi? What were the objectives?

The Green Team’s journey began at the U.S. Embassy New Delhi in 2006. Its objectives were to have members represent as wide a variety of Embassy sections and offices as possible, and to promote sustainability initiatives and influence the behavior of those at the U.S. Mission to India to be aware of and adopt green best practices.


Which green initiatives have been most successful at the U.S. Embassy New Delhi?

U.S. Embassy New Delhi is unique in that it has a dedicated section under the Facilities department called a Resource Conservation Unit (RCU), which focuses on implementing sustainability projects such as energy conservation and replacing conventional lights with LED [light-emitting diode] lighting. The Green Team, however, has been most successful in championing green initiatives by celebrating special occasions like Earth Day. In 2016, the Green Team participated in promoting an ecofriendly lunch and fashion show that raised awareness and showcased environmental-friendly products of local businesses. This year, the Green Team helped promote an Earth Day event in coordination with local organizations and the local government.


What do you think is the biggest challenge in making the green initiatives successful?

A major challenge in making our green initiatives successful is getting members to dedicate their time and energy consistently. Since the Green Team is made up of volunteers, it’s a challenge to continually get many different people focused on supporting initiatives when they are often traveling or having to attend to other responsibilities.

The New Delhi Green Team has been successful in bringing in new members as older members leave for their next posting. It’s always exciting to get new members who bring new ideas and initiatives that can help make the Embassy community greener.


What have been some of the learnings of the Green Team so far?

In this past year, it was exciting to learn how much interest those working at U.S. Embassy New Delhi have in supporting green initiatives. It’s not unusual to get inquiries as to where LED lights can be purchased, where a recycling bin is full and needs to be emptied or where compost can be found for plants. As more and more people find it important to look for ways to use resources better, the Green Team learns from those at the Embassy, not only about what green ideas people are passionate about, but what possibilities exist for improving how we behave and for making better environmental choices.


What keeps the team inspired? Has your work been recognized?

It’s a diverse group of personalities, and it’s always encouraging to find Green Team members supporting other members’ opinions, ideas or listening to a perspective on how to implement a green initiative. The team is inspired by having so many enthusiastic members who are passionate about green initiatives.

U.S. Embassy New Delhi was recognized in 2016 for two Greening Diplomacy Initiative awards. The Superior & Sustained Utility Reporting was given for collecting data to establish a baseline, to track energy and water use and to document reductions toward specific targets set by U.S. federal government mandates. The People’s Choice award for Mission India was the representation of over 4,000 people who recognized and appreciated our green initiatives and voted for us. These highlighted the Embassy’s successful greening efforts and accomplishments in promoting energy-saving initiatives.

While it’s the RCU that has been successful saving resources by implementing energy-saving initiatives, at U.S. Embassy New Delhi, it’s the Green Team that is a great resource at coming up with new ideas, such as exploring better ways for employees to get to work by finding better transportation options.


Please share with us some of the green projects you plan to initiate in the near future.

In the near future, we would like to have the RCU offer U.S. Embassy residents an energy review of monthly utility bills and see if any practices can be shared, such as best indoor temperatures to be maintained for efficiency. If a residential utility bill is unusually high, there may be something wrong with an air conditioning unit that needs to be looked at for repair.

In 2016, we installed our first drip irrigation project. We plan to look more closely at other locations throughout the Embassy where more drip irrigation can be operated.

U.S. Embassy New Delhi is scheduled to be renovated in 2018. We plan to look at whether it’s feasible to install solar panels throughout the Embassy, to become more self-reliant and environmentally sustainable.


What would you like to say to our readers who, inspired by your story, might plan to do their bit to save the environment?

There are several different ways to turn inspiration into action. Anyone can increase their environmental activism by doing more recycling, thinking about how to use more environmentally sustainable products and using the Internet to learn more about the many different ways people around the world are contributing to saving the environment.