Patricia J. Beneke was appointed Director and Regional Representative of the United Nations Environment Programme's Regional Office for North America in May 2014. Prior to that, she served as Senior Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for nearly 20 years, specializing on legislation and oversight matters relating to energy policy, water resources, and environmental issues.
In 1995, Ms. Beneke was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science, and served in that capacity until 2000. As Assistant Secretary, she played a leadership role with respect to several ecosystem restoration efforts, including those involving the Florida Everglades, the California-San Francisco Bay Delta, and the Platte River. In addition, she was responsible for programs of the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey. She was heavily involved in water resource issues and in initiatives to provide quality science for natural resource decision-making.
Early in her career, Ms. Beneke was an attorney at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and she also handled environmental litigation as an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. In addition, Ms. Beneke served as the Associate Solicitor for Energy and Resources at the U.S. Department of the Interior, and she has also worked in the private sector.
Ms. Beneke has taught natural resources law and policy on an adjunct basis at Harvard Law School, Columbia University Law School, the University of Virginia School of Law, the Georgetown University Law Center, and the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy. She holds a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School and a B.A. degree from Iowa State University.
The United Nations Environment Programme's Regional Office for North America (UNEP RONA) is the first United Nations entity to obtain LEED Gold Certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Developed by the United States Green Building Council, it provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction.
Our commitment to sustainability through the use of environmentally-friendly building practices and sustainable, recyclable, and energy efficient construction products is evident throughout our new eco-office.
The First Step: Office Location
To reduce environmental impact from employees' commute, the first environmentally responsible step for UNEP RONA was to pick an office close to a Metro station and numerous bus lines. Placing an office in an existing structure is preferable to building on an undeveloped ("greenfield") site. Being near public transportation increases the likelihood that employees will choose environmentally preferable commuting options. The office space contains a shower, which allows our staff to run and bike to work and gives weary overseas travelers an opportunity to freshen up for a right-off-the-plane meeting. The tiles in the shower area are composed of 55% recycled glass.