On March 13, 2007, the American Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, received LEED for New Construction certification.  Although this is not “news”, it is an interesting story and helps to illustrate that green building is not a new trend. 

There are some unique challenges when building a green embassy building with the most prominent one being the issue of safety.  The Sofia Embassy building design was based on a model created after the dual bombings of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.  This ensured that the embassy would incorporate the safety features from the Standard Embassy Design (PDF) as it implemented green building techniques.

 “Sensors and timers ensure that lights are turned off when rooms are unoccupied or when there is sufficient daylight. Lightshelves contribute to the daylighting, and energy use is further reduced by a solar water heater and extra insulation. One third of the project’s materials were sourced from within 500 miles of the project site. “  Source: USGBC

The 184,472 square-foot embassy building scored 26 out of a possible 69 points on the LEED for New Construction checklist.  This put the building just above the cutoff for certification making it the first LEED certified U.S. Embassy building. 

The USGBC Project Profile, created in 2007, declares that the State Department has a goal of completing 15 LEED certified embassies by the end of this year (2009).  A quick search of the USGBC certified and a registered projects list only shows the Bulgarian Embassy building.  However, it is important to note that not every registered project is included in the USGBC’s public database.

I then went to the Department of State website and could not find any information on other LEED certified Embassy buildings.  My last stop in search of other green embassy buildings was the U.S. Department of Energy website.  I found a document from March 2008 that lists LEED certified Federal Buildings (PDF).  The only Department of State building on the list was the American Embassy in Bulgaria.

So, it looks like the State Department won’t reach that goal of 15 LEED certified buildings by the end of fiscal year 2009.  I am curious if they have put the plans for building green embassies on hold or simply scrapped the idea altogether.

Photo by U.S. Embassy

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