DC Embassy “Goes Green” with LEED Gold Status

Achieving the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) council certification for any structure requires a lot of innovation, dedication and patience. It is a symbol of environmental stewardship, and speaks to leadership’s dedication to making the building safer for the employees who work there. The UAE Embassy in Washington, DC has earned LEED Gold Status by thoughtfully achieving these high standards.

There are many steps to achieving LEED Gold Status, which is a painstaking process that requires the accumulation of points, which add up to achieve a ranking of Gold or other levels. UAE ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba, commended the efforts made by Masdar Abu Dhabis and Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany, the Director of Sustainability.

One of the benchmarks for earning LEED Gold Status is to reduce a structure’s carbon footprint. For the UAE Embassy, this meant retrofitting it with machinery that uses less energy. A white roof was installed to reflect light rather than absorbing it, helping to keep the temperature inside the building steady with less energy. The entire building was painted in a lighter color, and sun shades were installed to reduce the amount of heat absorption.

All of these efforts in turn lead to reduced reliance on electricity to cool or heat the building. In fact, the changes have reduced the structure’s overall electric consumption by 40 percent. This means that some 400 tons of CO2 are saved from entering the atmosphere each year.

Water use is also a part of LEED certification, so the UAE building installed a solar system to heat water. The embassy now uses 41 percent less water than the standards set forth by the 1992 EPAct.

One of the environmental drawbacks to new construction or retrofitting is that a lot of waste is produced, some of it potentially hazardous. The UAE team was able to harvest 75 percent of construction wastes for either recycling or other uses, helping to free up local landfills.

All of this hard work netted the UAE Embassy the LEED Gold status, but also saves on operating costs in the long run due to lower energy needs. Employees also benefit by enjoying a cleaner, safer structure to work in each day.

Currently, the UAE Embassy is the only embassy in the world that has achieved LEED Gold Status. One embassy, the Finnish Embassy in Washington, has achieved LEED Platinum certification. Platinum is the top certification possible, one level above gold.