U.S. Embassy Helsinki’s Innovation Center
The U.S. Embassy in Helsinki is thrilled to finally unveil the Innovation Center on February 26, 2013. Through the vision and drive of many people, including Ambassador Bruce J. Oreck, and the support of the Department of State and the tireless efforts of Overseas Building Operations, one of the most energy efficient embassy buildings in the world is now operational. More than a space to showcase the very latest in energy efficient technologies, the Innovation Center exemplifies 21st century diplomacy in all of its forms.
Embassy staff returned to the building in mid-January. A grand opening on February 26 will be the first time many of our friends will see the space and get to know its capabilities. Anyone interested in touring the space after its opening should contact us. We’ll gladly arrange a visit.
What is the Innovation Center?
The Innovation Center will house the public offices of the U.S. Embassy in Finland and be one of the most energy efficient embassy buildings in the world. While the building will utilize leading technologies in energy innovation, the staff it houses will work to advance the Department of State’s Economic Statecraft Initiative and promote an active and robust trade and investment agenda in Finland and the region. Beyond advancing the Mission’s economic agenda, the Innovation Center will provide a venue for all manner of public programming, information sharing and meetings with contacts to discuss the myriad of opportunities and global challenges that we look to address through our partnership with Finland. It will present a new face in U.S. diplomacy - an open, inviting and welcoming venue in one of the city’s most beautiful locations.
Investment in Finland
The U.S. has invested over 125 million dollars in the embassy retrofit project. The project was first envisioned during the height of the economic downturn. As a statement of the U.S.’s commitment to our abiding and rich relationship with Finland, the people of the U.S. have made an investment in Finland, and an investment in our planet’s future through the use of efficient technologies.
LED and OLED lighting technology will be used throughout the Innovation Center, the first U.S. Government building with such lighting. In addition to the solid state, smart lighting, the Innovation Center uses Marmoleum flooring (which contains no petroleum products), Leutron lighting controls, and high performance Whirlpool appliances. The Innovation Center also harnesses the best of Finnish technology by being the first U.S. government building in the world to use district cooling and heating.
It’s your space too
The Innovation Center is envisioned as a one-of-a-kind tool to unlock more in our relationships with our Finnish and regional partners. There are myriad additional opportunities for trade and investment, information sharing, and collaboration between the United States and Europe – and beyond. We want our partners and friends to feel that the Innovation Center is an easy extension of their own offices, where they can convene competitions, expositions, and meet with others. The Innovation Center is an ideal place to talk about the cutting edge in a beautiful, environmentally friendly setting. It is on track to receive LEED Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (which would be a first for any embassy worldwide). It will also serve as the Embassy’s primary location for meetings, information sharing, press availability and cultural programming.
In 2010, the Embassy closed the Embassy Annex Building, a crumbling 100 year-old former apartment building that housed a collection of Embassy offices. Ambassador Oreck saw this as an opportunity, and created a pioneering plan for a full renovation of the building, along with construction of a new, soaring glass building next door (Phase II, which is underway already). Ambassador Oreck, from the start, recognized the potential of the venue to promote a robust economic agenda with our regional partners, as well as a space to reach out to a wide variety of partners in every field. When the Innovation Center opens, it will be the U.S. government’s first fully solid state building, deploying exclusively LED and OLED lighting technologies, a demonstration of the United States’ strong commitment to clean tech. The project is also a strong statement about the strength of U.S.-Finnish relations, bolstering our already robust relationship by providing a regional platform to network, make connections and conduct business.
The Innovation Center is a model for 21st century diplomacy. We envison a space to address progressive “economic statecraft” goals, by bringing trade, investment and commercial diplomacy to the forefront. This isn’t limited to a “dollars and cents” vision, as the Embassy looks to partner to find creative approaches to important social issues. Work in this first-of-its-kind diplomatic structure will be aimed at further strengthening overall U.S.-Finnish relations, increasing our joint potential and opening regional opportunities.
Let the Work Begin!
- How did the League of Green Embassies originate? What about the bipartisan nature of this Green Embassy initiative? An excerpt of a interview with Bruce J. Oreck, U.S. Ambassador to Finland and Michael M. Wood, former U.S. Ambassador to Sweden. Watch the YouTube video (1:55)
- League of Green Embassies: Passing the leadership from Stockholm to Helsinki. Watch the YouTube video (3:35)
- U.S. Ambassador to Finland Bruce Oreck explains about the renovation project, which will transform U.S. Embassy Helsinki into one of the greenest U.S. embassies in the world. Watch the YouTube video (0:58)