Tuesday, May 21, 2013

U.S. Dedicates New $133M "Green" Embassy in Burundi

    Many Americans might be hard pressed to pick out Burundi on a map, but (as Daniel Halper noted at The Weekly Standard) the United States just dedicted a brand new "green" embassy complex in the city of Kigobe in the African nation.   The State Department press release calls the embassy complex "an important symbol of America’s commitment to an enduring friendship with the Republic of Burundi."  Two Washington D.C. architectural firms, Perkins + Will and Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, designed the buildings and Caddell Construction of Montgomery, Alabama did the construction.  A significant part of the announcement touts the green credentials of the new embassy compound, pictured below:
The new facility incorporates numerous sustainable features to reduce operating costs and conserve resources, most notably an extensive system of over 950 photovoltaic panels; a white “cool” roof and the use of architectural shading of the building to reduce solar heat gain and energy cooling costs; and on-site treatment of wastewater that is reused for irrigation. An estimated 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfills for reuse by the local community. The facility has been registered with the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification.

    While the U.S. has had diplomatic relations with the country for 40 years, the CIA Factbook entry for Burundi spells out its troubled past and challenged for the future:
Burundi's first democratically elected president was assassinated in October 1993 after only 100 days in office, triggering widespread ethnic violence between Hutu and Tutsi factions. More than 200,000 Burundians perished during the conflict that spanned almost a dozen years. Hundreds of thousands of Burundians were internally displaced or became refugees in neighboring countries. An internationally brokered power-sharing agreement between the Tutsi-dominated government and the Hutu rebels in 2003 paved the way for a transition process that led to an integrated defense force, established a new constitution in 2005, and elected a majority Hutu government in 2005. The government of President Pierre NKURUNZIZA, who was reelected in 2010, continues to face many political and economic challenges.
    Although the embassy complex was just dedicated this week, the new location actually opened for business in October 2012.  The ambassador to Burundi is Dawn M. Liberi, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, who was nominated for the position in July 2012 and confirmed by the Senate in October.  Most recently, Ms. Liberi had functioned as the Senior Assistance Coordinator at U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya in 2012.

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