Posted by: Joseph Rozenshtein is Assistant Management Officer and Green Team Coordinator; Rachel Atwood Mendiola is an Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer and leads the Green Team’s outreach efforts.
On Wednesday, April 30, Ambassador Geoff Pyatt led U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s celebration of Earth Week 2014 by helping to clean a portion of Nivky Park, located just across Igor Sikorski Street from the Embassy. The beautification project involved 25 Embassy officers, local staff, and family members working together with the Kyiv City Park Administration. We collected trash, including broken glass, bottle caps, plastic waste, and other refuse, and swept one of the major paths in the park to make it cleaner for fellow pedestrians. Nivky Park is more than 100 years old and was granted the status of a local nature reserve in 1972. There are over 90 varieties of trees in the park. The park is a long-time neighborhood favorite.
The park cleanup was organized by U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s Green Team. As Green Team members, we were glad to see so many of our colleagues and their family members join us to give back to a park and community that means so much to us, both as commuters and as good neighbors, by helping to keep the park clean, healthy, and safe. It’s also not every day that you see the Ambassador with a broom!
The cleanup is only one of the many activities the Embassy is doing to celebrate environmental responsibility. As Secretary of State Kerry said, “This year’s Earth Day focus is cities, and the fact is, how the world’s cities respond to our climate change challenge will make a huge difference. Roughly 5.2 billion people are projected to live in the world’s urban communities by 2050. Building codes and electricity requirements, public transportation systems, and land management will help determine whether we meet this global challenge. The Department of State is committed to doing our part to help bring about greener cities around the world.” As part of the Department of State’s “Greening Diplomacy Initiative,” the Embassy has worked green practices into the very fabric of our mission. Here are just a few things we are doing:
- We built a green Embassy, with a green roof system and indigenous landscaping with rain gardens that pre-treat storm water.
- We installed energy efficient hand driers to reduce our paper towel use.
- Our Building Automation System keeps our boilers turned off for longer periods of time, reducing energy and gas consumption.
- We safely dispose thousands of fluorescent light bulbs that contain harmful mercury.
- We have motion sensors to control lighting in the corridors, some offices, and rooms.
- We buy paper locally, rather than shipping it from the U.S., which reduces gas consumption and pollution from transportation.
- We care about recycling and recently visited the company where our paper, plastic, glass, and metal waste items are sorted for recycling.
- We used distillers in all our homes to reduce bottled water usage, but as these machines are not energy efficient, we are replacing the distillers with low energy water filters, reducing our carbon footprint.
- We also started a community garden last year. Most of us grew up in cities where access to nature was limited, and with the community garden, we can learn about growing food while teaching our children the importance of caring for the environment.
But that’s just what we do inside the Embassy. We also strive to help Ukraine and Ukrainians to improve their environment with various projects, like improving environmental legislation and clean energy regulation, saving energy, reducing CO2 emissions, and developing sustainable clean energy alternatives, among others.
To learn more, and to tell us some of the ways you work to improve your environment, check out our recent Earth Day video!