The U.S. Dept. of Energy’s “Super Energy Savings Performance Contracts” initiative is heading overseas. The State Dept. announced on Dec. 8 that it is joining with DOE to use its ESPC delivery mechanism for energy audits and implement systems upgrades at U.S. embassies worldwide.

The Super ESPC vehicle is a public-private partnership that enables companies to conduct energy assessments and carry out upgrades at federal buildings with no initial cost to the agencies. Firms get regular payments that equal savings realized from the improvements until the contract’s full value is paid back.

DOE has teamed with several agencies over the last decade, but has limited its scope to facilities in the U.S. Under a new memorandum of understanding, State will tap some of the firms that already work with DOE, says Bill Miner, director of design and engineering for State’s Bureau of Overseas Building Operations. Currently, only two firms on that list work internationally, but State hopes to expand that to eight to 10 firms soon.

Johnson Controls, NORESCO and Honeywell are among companies that have received contracts under the Super ESPC program.

State’s decision to use ESPC was made in the shadow of new federal energy goals in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act as well as an executive order. The statute calls on agencies to cut energy use by 3% annually from 2007 through 2015, boost use of renewable energy at least 7.5% by 2013 and trim water use by 2% annually from 2008 through 2015.

Miner says the State Dept. also is working on establishing baselines at its more than 18,000 facilities at 280 locations worldwide, so that it can measure efficiency gains.

The department is instituting green standards at its newest embassies. Since 2001, it has built 62 new embassy compounds and has another 34 under construction. Until 2008, those buildings were constructed with LEED-equivalent standards but were not required to be LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. Now, all new embassies must aim for at least a LEED Silver rating.