UN Secretary General Opens The First Energy-Neutral Building in Nairobi

The Secretary General of UN, Ban Ki Moon, was in Nairobi to officially open the “Greenest Building” in Kenya. The building is nature friendly and if fully solar powered with more than 6,000 square metres of Solar Panels. The function was also graced by the President, Mwai Kibaki, and a host of UN dignitaries.

The building utilise sunlight to the maximum and lowers the need of electricity. The whole facility cost around $19 Million to put up. CO2 emissions were just 8.6 Million in 2004 but the UNEP say that by 2020, the level of emissions will be in the range of 11.1 Billion tonnes. Mr Ban Ki Moon jokingly said that he would have loved to move the SGs office to Nairobi since he has been championing for green technology for some time.

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More than 1,200 UNEP and UN-HABITAT employees are set to be hosted in the facility with many of such facilities to be put up in the future. This is the first energy-neutral facility in the African continent put up by the UN.

To say that thew offices are “energy neutral”, is to mean that the building generates as much power (via renewable sources which is Solar in this case) as it consumes over the year. The building consumes, an estimated at 750,000 Kwh per year, which ranks highly among green buildings worldwide. The energy savings will see the cost of the facility pay itself in a period of 8 years according to UNEP estimates but the facility has a 25 years return on investment guarantee.

The new building lighting system was installed by Phillips and expects to save up to 70% of energy. The lighting uses the TL5 fluorescent system which automatically dim or turn off when no one is in the building and use daylight to compensate for the energy which would have been used. The lighting system can be remotely adjusted from the building management system which is electronic.

If the building were to be powered with On-grid connection, the current savings in a period of 10 years will amount to more than 1,000 tons of CO2 emissions. “IEA figures shows that lighting consumes 19% of all electricity worldwide –  the majority of this in buildings” says Harry Verhaar who is a senior Director for sustainability at Phillips Lighting.

You can learn more about the building by downloading this brochure. Learn more about the “Greening the Blue” initiative here.

Written by Robert

Respected Kenyan blogger, tech evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle @RobertAlai or Facebook page (

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