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Ceremony Honors the World's Greenest Diplomatic Facility
April 14, 2011

The world’s first LEED-certified embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria prepares for another milestone on Earth Day 2011 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in honor of the facility’s Dedicated Heat Recovery Chiller (DHRC). The design/build team consists of Martinez International Corporation, Multistack and H&A Architects & Engineers (H&A), all influential in defining the standards of embassy design including DHRC technology.

The Earth Day celebration will take place at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia on Friday, April 15 with representatives of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) and the City of Sofia Government. U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, James Warlick, is taking steps to push the U.S. toward net zero energy and the DHRC is another milestone in reaching that goal.

The team has been instrumental by encouraging adoption of this application by OBO, first incorporating it in the OBO Supplement to the 2008 International Mechanical Code.

Current energy concerns have pushed development, making it crucial to accept systems that are more sustainable, reduc­ing the carbon footprint of embassies worldwide. The DHRC utilizes “thrown away” energy, reducing emission of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuel.

This saves on the cost of the natural gas, electricity and district steam used to heat water used by the building.

“Together with OBO, H&A is increasing the use of renewable energy resulting in reduced fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions around the world,” said Mechanical Department Head, Rob McAtee, PE, LEED AP. “We are committed to the aggressive sustainability goals set forth by the U.S. and host-nation governments, and we are working toward making net-zero-energy buildings commonplace.”

According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the U.S. Embassy in Sofia is the first to incorporate green strategies that include encouraging employees to use environ­mentally friendly modes of transportation and innovative features for water management and conservation.

CMSS, now a part of H&A, is the Architect of Record for the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, de­signing what the USGBC describes a modern marvel of architecture.

The sophisticated irrigation system and water-efficient fixtures inside the building contribute to an annual water savings of 136,000 gallons, about 20 percent less than a comparable conventional building. Lightshelves contribute to the daylighting, and a solar water heater and extra insulation further reduce energy use.

The first diplomatic facility to utilize DHRC technology is in Santiago, Chile, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 80 percent and generating heat at a quarter of the cost of using fossil fuel. The Martinez, Multistack and H&A team also worked together with the U.S. Department of State to install this system, which has resulted in a $47,000 reduction in heating cost during the embassy’s first six months of operation in 2008.

The commitment to investigate alternative sustainable opportunities is ongoing and the incorporation of the DHRC is yet another step in supporting “eco-diplomacy.” The Embassy in Sofia will now be the greenest of all new U.S. Embassies worldwide.

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