New energy efficient building opened in Nairobi

Ban Ki-moon (left)

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has officially opened a major new office space at the UN in Nairobi, Kenya. The new building will house the headquarters of the UN Environment Programme UNEP and the UN Human Settlements Programme. It is one of the greenest buildings in sub-Saharan Africa. Bryan Coll reports.

Six thousand square metres of shimmering solar panels, rainwater collection, low-energy lighting…even eco-friendly paint. Just some of the green features of the new UN building in Nairobi.

Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki joined the Secretary General to cut the ribbon on the new offices…which will house over a thousand staff members.

Mr. Ban said the building set a new benchmark for sustainability…both across the UN system and in Africa:


“This building is a living model for our sustainable future. If our growing population is going to survive on this planet, we need smart designs that maximize resources, minimize waste and serve people and communities. This facility hits all of these targets.”

Buildings are the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide…mainly through heating and lighting.

The new UN offices in Nairobi will be energy neutral. This means they will generate as much energy as it uses during the course of a year – through solar power.

The building uses the latest technology to cut energy used to cool computer servers… with significant economic benefits…as UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner explains


“I.T. was the other major area of electricity consumption and therefore we took a very close look at how we could the consumption footprint from the information infrastructure. We anticipate saving between 80 and 90 percent of the electricity that is normally used for cooling server rooms. This translates not into a few hundred dollars a year but into somewhere between seventy to a hundred thousand dollars a year saved.”

Making the design, construction of maintenance of buildings more sustainable is a key part of UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative.

Its Green Economy Report – launched last month – shows how greening the building sector….saves water resources, reduces waste and cuts indoor air pollution.

The economic benefits are numerous. The UN in Nairobi says saving from lower electricity bills in the new building will repay the cost of the solar panels in around 7 years. After that, the energy savings will amount to hundreds thousands of dollars.

Bryan Coll, UN Radio.

Duration: 2’11″

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