High efficiency light bulb in field of grass

Renewable Energy Integration into the United Nations

Posted Sep 2, 2010 | 1 | Filed under:

The UNEP in Nairobi is designing a building in Nairobi to house 1,200 staff members. It will incorporate water efficiency and recycling, greening through green zones inside the buildings, waste water management, recycled carpets etc.

The roof can generate 750,000kWh/yr. So the consumptions would have to fit into that number. The best buildings in the world use between 15 and 30 kWh per sq meter per year. This means that the building could be at 42.5kWh per square meter due to finance and other constraints. This includes heating and cooling while the 15 to 30 doesn't. 

Areas to focus on to keep the building energy neutral.


  • Lighting
  • Computers
  • IT
  • Equipment
  • User behavior.

Lighting:By partnering with Philips lighting, they got 70% improvement over their current use at 150,000kwh

Work Stations:Switch to docking stations to reduce by half to 120,000kWh relative to their current consumption with traditional desktops.

Equipment: Perhaps 50,000kWhs
Servers:Perhaps 150,000kWhs
IT infrastructure: Perhaps 150,000kWhs

UNEP got a consortium of German companies that will help them install them including donations from Japan. For lighting, Bartlet University did a 3 D model that helped determing the ideal lighting. Philips then followed up with the lighting technologies including lighting management. Found that LED lighing for indoor lighting wasn't ready for prime lighting.

Working with British Telecom to do an IT study to determine what the best approach would be for energy efficiency.
On the PV side, the facility will not use batteries. The electricity generated is consumed into the building and the compound. Whatever the building doesnt use will be pumped into the grid. This is quite interesting as there is no official policy in Kenya for net metering. 

For the system, the electricity PV generation will have a payback period of 8 to 10yrs. Since part of the system is donated, the payback on a purely commercial system would be longer. Computers will be flat screens and docking stations that consume a third of the power of normal desktops. They are also looking at cloud computing which may not be a suitable options due to security and server requirements. They are also considering computer based phone and video conference calls which saves on energy and equipment. 

By using an atrium, they improve lighting and also allow for natural ventilation through gaps in the atrium roof. They are also using light wells within the building to provide lighting inside the building. They are also incorporating a lot of open office space to encourage air and light flow throughout the building. They will also avoid blinds and will instead use opaque films to allow for privacy while ensuring light flow. 

Some pending issues include server rooms to see if they can do away with air conditioning for server rooms. 

According to the UNEP, behavior issues is the biggest challenge. Issues include personal heating and cooling devices, personal water heaters for tea, computers that are never switched off, people who use blinds to enhance privacy in their office. UNEP is addressing these behavior issues by engaging staff to meet their needs in an integrated way to ensure their buy-in. The other way is to utilize automation such as motion sensors for lighting. Communication, task forces and distribute resolution mechanisms.

Other opportunities that they will be considering in the future are light tubes amongst others


Reader Comments

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  1. teddy

    February 05, 2011 11:45 AM | Permalink

    Hi, iv noticed that at the UNEP buildings there are quite a few trees, cooking for staff can be done in a very environmental way, a sustainble tree-branch harvesting system that can be used ass feedstock for small scale charcoal making to use for cooking at UNEP functions in place of fossil fuel LPG gas would be an all around good thing.
    For the sake of have a holistic view towards energy efficency, cooking has its place to and steak just tastes different cooked on homemade charcoal!

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