With water recycling plant and solar panels, its embassy has cut carbon footprint
As the sprinklers come on at the Norwegian Embassy in the national capital, it isn’t just the lawns that are being ‘greened’, say diplomats, with a touch of pride. Every inch of its renovated space, which will be inaugurated next month by the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, has been equipped with eco-friendly technology and techniques, and officials hope to showcase it as Delhi’s first “green embassy”.
The water in the sprinklers, for example, is recycled by a sewage treatment plant (STP) built within the 12,000 square metre property of the embassy. According to the embassy’s estimates, the plant enables it to save about 1,24,000 litres of water annually, while rainwater recharges underground reservoirs.
Water isn’t the only thing being recycled, point out officials. Strict rules now mandate segregation of waste by diplomats and employees.
The segregated material is then sold to local recycling companies. In the past seven months, the Embassy has earned about ₹18,000 from its waste, and about four tonnes of recycled paper have been exchanged for nearly 500 notebooks used in the embassy.
“We would like to ensure that we step as lightly as possible on the environment. What we are particularly happy about is that we will be conserving energy even though we have almost tripled the area of the embassy,” Administration head Øystein Eriksen told The Hindu during a tour of the premises.
The construction of the Embassy, carried out in five phases over more than two years, has seen several additions to the original 1958 building, including a new office and visa section, as well as an apartment block for diplomats and visitors.
The entire complex is covered with about 88 solar plates that produce 200kWh per day, powering all the hot water on the premises, as well as outdoor lighting and in most of the common areas.
“Geothermal wells circulate water in 30 well tubes sunk 100 meters into the earth,” which helps with cooling the air conditioning plant, explained Norwegian architect Terje Grønmo, in written comments. Sensors with timers set to 15-20 minutes ensure that the LED lighting is cut off to an area which is not being used; the Embassy claims it has halved the intake of electricity from the New Delhi Municipal Corporation.
Officials also say the construction techniques used in the Embassy have been more ‘green’ than others. All offices are built along the exterior walls, so that they receive natural light.
Local material used
“Almost 95% of the materials for the new Embassy have been brought from the local market in New Delhi, [which is] more sustainable to use materials suited for local conditions, instead of transporting materials from Europe,” chief engineer for the project Rigmor Leirvik is quoted in the embassy’s promotional brochure, in a reference to what is called “green thinking”.
According to Mr. Eriksen, the recycling of waste and water as well as the use of solar energy has led to a reduction in 14,385 kgs in CO2 emissions, estimated as the equivalent of the annual emissions by eight cars.
He added that the embassy is now receiving inquiries from other embassies in Delhi to make their premises more environmentally friendly, and are possibly at present slightly ‘green’ with envy.