The Finnish embassy sparkled in rich shades of emerald as the embassy celebrated its status as the first LEED certified diplomatic building in the United States.
The drinks, dresses, ties and conversation topics were all green at the embassy's green-building celebration on February 24. Close to 300 of Washington's environmental and energy-efficiency experts, government and think-tank officials and young professionals gathered to the embassy to mingle, discuss all things environment, enjoy excellent entertainment and delicious food, and finally, dance the night away. The cause for this green party? The Finnish embassy's status as the first LEED certified green embassy in the United States.
Finnish ambassador Pekka Lintu had many reasons to be happy. In the past few years, the embassy has cut its energy consumption drastically and achieved savings of $150,000 in annual utility bills. In 2008 the building became the first embassy in the United States to be awarded the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star. This January, the embassy became the first embassy in the United States to meet the rigorous green-building standards of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
"This building looks like a green building. It acts like a green building. And now it is a green building", Mr. Lintu said. "It gives us street credibility that will, I believe, help my country Finland to promote her environmental agenda here in Washington. We practice what we preach."
Greg Kats, director of the Good Energies Foundation and author of a recent book, "Greening Our Built World", discussed the growing importance of improving energy efficiency in buildings and encouraged other embassies and U.S. organizations to follow the Finns' lead. The U.S. Green Building Council's Chief Operating Officer, Chris Smith, thanked the embassy for its leadership in energy efficiency and presented ambassador Lintu with the LEED Gold plaque, which, true to the building's green ideals, is made out of recycled glass bottles.
The night wasn't all speeches, however. The Pink Line Project, Washington's dynamic arts organization, offered the guests a few amazing performers: the Grammy-nominated Christylez Bacon and the young talented dancers of the City Dance Ensemble. A photographic installation combined beautiful nature shots with photos of the guests into a stunning piece of video art, and video-DJ John Bowen provided the eclectic and groovy soundtrack, which had guests boogying until the night's last hours.