Renovation plan will result in major ‘greening’ of UN complex, says official

Michael Adlerstein

2 February 2009 – The renovation project designed to make United Nations Headquarters in New York more modern, safe and sustainable will result in a significant “greening” of the landmark complex that will reduce energy consumption and operating costs, as well as lower the world body’s carbon footprint, the official in charge of the overhaul said today.

“The environmental performance of the Headquarters complex will be significantly improved upon completion of the Capital Master Plan,” Michael Adlerstein, Executive Director of the five-year, $1.9 billion project, told a news conference in New York.

“We’ll reduce energy consumption by a projected 44 per cent as compared to existing conditions,” he noted. “This is an improvement over the 40 per cent figure reported last year.”

The reduction in energy consumption will be achieved through design initiatives in two key areas, Mr. Adlerstein reported. The first involves improving the building “envelope,” including by replacing the existing single glazed curtain wall on the exterior of the Secretariat building with a new, high performance double glazed curtain wall.

This also involves installing automated interior shades and blinds to control heat gain and maximize the use of natural light. In addition, new insulation and other energy-conserving measures will be installed on roofs and exterior walls to reduce the heat transfer in both summer and winter. As a result, “our building envelope will leak less energy,” he stated.

The second area of energy efficiency incorporates significant efforts to improve the heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, as well as installing a sophisticated building management system which will automate the central controls of the building’s “antique” thermostat system.

“The combination of a more secure building envelope and a higher technology heating and air conditioning system will save operating costs and lower our carbon footprint for decades,” said Mr. Adlerstein.

The sustainability measures also include “dramatically” more efficient lighting systems, as well as a daylight harvesting system which will automatically control artificial light levels in response to natural light levels.

Mr. Adlerstein stressed that the project is on schedule and will be completed as planned in 2013, adding that he is confident the project will be finished within the approved budget.

“We’re making great progress on the temporary North Lawn building, the fit-out of our other swing spaces and the procurement tasks in support of the project,” he noted.

It is expected that by the conclusion of the next general debate of the General Assembly in September, the temporary building will be completed and the Secretary-General, his staff and the functions of the conference building will move into it.

Meanwhile, the floors in all three leased swing space locations, two in Manhattan and one in Long Island City, are being fitted out while some last minute designs are being finalized.

While a small number of staff have already moved out of the complex, the bulk of the moves are slated to peak from June to August of this year, when it is least disruptive to the work of the Organization.


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