About the Embassy
U.S. Embassy Yaounde Goes Green
Chanh Nguyen, Management Counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon speaks on Embassy’s green efforts for sustainable environment. A green and inspiring story for all.
Please tell us about the Green Initiatives that your Management Team is working on at the US Embassy.
The Embassy in Yaounde is one of the first U.S. embassies in the sub-Africa region that has embraced and promoted greening and sustainability awareness. Our Post Management supports all types of green initiatives and practices. Currently, we use innovative solutions such as compact fluorescent lights in our residences and light emitting diode bulbs for our security lighting at the Embassy compound. These lights provide an estimated 40 percent energy savings and life expectancy up to 18 years while providing a much better quality of light.
Our Chancery offices are also equipped with motion sensors to perform lighting control. These sensors automatically turn off lights when they are not needed in unoccupied rooms. Water shortages pose serious challenges throughout Cameroon. To conserve this natural resource, we use low volume drip irrigation instead of sprinklers. This system allows water to slowly infiltrate the root zone directly below the ground surface and use much less water.
Embassy Yaounde is also committed to fully greening its own facilities with its building automated systems to show case our energy efficiency technologies. The US Government has installed an enhanced automated building control system in our New Chancery Compound. This system helps save Energy and improved occupant comfort.
We have recently transferred the entire building electrical load onto one of the two prime generators, resulting in 45% reduction in diesel consumption, and significant reduction in post’s carbon footprint. I am very proud of this accomplishment from the Facility Management team.
I understand that even electronic equipment and appliances also consume energy. How do you conserve energy in these products?
Another major initiative is our printer replacement program. We have removed over 25 local printers and replaced them with 8 energy-efficient network printers with duplex capability. The embassy expects to completely remove at least 1/3 of the 90 plus current printers and default all remaining printers to duplex printing to significantly save energy and paper! With the purchase and installation of these duplex capable and energy star printers, we use less paper and consume far less electricity than before, resulting in much smaller environmental footprint. In addition, we have already starting leveraging the use of technology and electronic filing in our move toward a paperless environment and have implemented an automatic sleep mode on all computers to save energy.
We recently purchased and replaced all residential freezers with A-rated, “Energy Star” freezers which will reduce the energy consumption by 60%. All residences electrical usage is monitored and the bills are made visible to the occupants in an effort to encourage them to conserve energy. Most households have responded favorably and are applying their own energy saving and greening initiatives.
Could you provide us some data on improvements in efficiency over time (or projected improvements)?
Definitely! Since last year, we have implemented various initiatives focused on energy efficiency, solar energy, water use and efficiency, recycling, smart transportation, awareness, communication and outreach. We have successfully reduced carbon dioxide emissions and will continue to do so in the coming years. There are tremendous opportunities for improvement and we continue to come up with more greening ideas to protect our environment.
Is there a particular project undertaken recently that you can describe that measures improvements in efficiency over existing ways of doing things?
Yes. There are at least three projects that I can describe to you now:
First --- Sub-metering and benchmark development: Every property is being analyzed for energy and water consumption and benchmarks are being developed that will tell us, for example, how much energy and water an average family of four living in an embassy-owned or leased apartment will consume. Once we have our benchmarks, we’ll implement “green” changes to our service systems, educate our occupants, and ask for their help in reducing our environmental impact. The forecast saving of this project is about 10 to 20 percent.
Second --- Early adoption of new technology: Whether it’s lights, motors, air conditioning, water treatment, or plumbing; we are constantly looking for new technologies that reduce our consumption. For example, our shift to energy efficient LED lights is well under way. Adoption of new technology comes at a price, but the 40 percent annual reduction in consumption is well worth the initial investment.
Third --- Reducing environmental impact: We are recycling newspaper, plastic bottles, and will work on recycling our water.
The Embassy participates in numerous environmental activities with local business and non-government partners.