The State Department has more than 250 embassy compounds abroad, more than 100 facilities here at home. In total, that adds up to 42.5m square feet of office space. We heat buildings near the Arctic Circle and we cool those near the Equator. We power legions of computers, copiers, and fax machines. Our staff uses every mode of transportation to travel to remote corners of the world. And we know that the business we conduct has an impact environmentally, financially, and publicly.
When I came to the State Department just a few months ago, I was heartened to learn that there already were many initiatives under way to make the Department more sustainable. I've heard from 33 Chiefs of Missions abroad who comprise what is called the League of Green US Embassies, which co-ordinates and supports efforts to green our missions overseas. Several bureaus, including Europe and Eurasia, Consular Affairs and Overseas Building Operations, have their own green teams to make our offices more energy efficient and less wasteful.
Now the State Department's computer servers take up about three per cent of our building space, but consume 40 per cent of our electricity load. We are working with a team from the IT Department to narrow that ratio. But one thing we could all do is turn off our computers. That actually would save energy.
I know that there are ways that we can get behind this Greening Diplomacy Initiative. It's a pledge that we will take to improve the environmental impact of our operations here and abroad. It has four key objectives: first, to develop and implement policies and initiatives that will reduce the State Department's environmental footprint; second, to empower employees to contribute to greening efforts by providing a hub where people can go with their ideas; third, to share best practices and track our progress; and fourth, to connect the management of the Department with the work we do in diplomacy and development so our staff can continue working on environmental issues around the globe, highlighting the progress we're making, coming back with good new ideas and generally moving the agenda forward.
Taken from an address given by the US Secretary of State at a 'Greening Diplomacy' event in Washington DC