UN Secretary-General opens new energy-neutral offices in Nairobi
Nairobi, 31 March 2011 - The Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon has officially opened the new offices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) in Nairobi, Kenya. Mr. Ban was joined by His Excellency Mr. Mwai Kibaki, President of the Republic of Kenya, to unveil the energy-neutral offices on the Gigiri compound, which have set a new benchmark for sustainable buildings in sub-Saharan Africa.
"This building is beautiful, comfortable and efficient. But more than any of that, this building is a living model of our sustainable future," said Mr. Ban at the opening ceremony.
"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 embodies the new, Green Economy that can usher in a cleaner future, create jobs and spur economic growth," he added.
The building sector is the single largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions with one third of energy use taking place in offices and homes. Moreover, building-related CO₂ emissions are set to rise from 8.6 billion tones in 2004 to 11.1 billion tones in 2020.
It was with these challenges in mind that the United Nations set out in 2009 to design a new headquarters for UNEP and UN-HABITAT that would maximize sustainability without compromising the quality of the working environment of the 1,200 employees.
From the 6,000 square metres of shimmering solar panels to the environmentally-friendly paint on the walls, the new UN offices boast myriad environmental features, while capitalising on the natural benefits of Nairobi's climate.
The facility shows how sustainable buildings can make a vital contribution towards tackling climate change as well as the transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy.