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As COP26 Kicks Off, UN Geneva Honours Commitment to Climate Action with New Green Building at the Palais des Nations

Press Release


Geneva, 1 November 2021 – In a ceremony held today on the premises, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Tatiana Valovaya, officially presented the new sustainable office building that is the latest addition to the Palais des Nations complex to representatives of the Host Country Switzerland, the United Nations Member States, the UN family and other partner organizations in Geneva.

After three years of construction, the state-of-the art building that is fully integrated into the Ariana Park landscape welcomed the first United Nations staff earlier this summer, as the renovation of the historic Palais des Nations got underway.

“With the opening of this new building, we have achieved a critical component of the Strategic Heritage Plan approved by the General Assembly in 2015,” said Director-General Valovaya, expressing her gratitude to the Host Country and Member States for their financial and substantive support. “It is an exciting step forward as the Palais des Nations undergoes a much-needed facelift to make it a modern workplace and conferencing facility that meets today’s standards for safety and accessibility.”

“This milestone also represents UN Geneva’s commitment to a greener and more collaborative future,” she added.

Ignazio Cassis, Vice-President of the Federal Council and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in Switzerland, Serge Dal Busco, President of the State Council of Geneva, Nathalie Fontanet, State Councellor of Geneva, and Frédérique Perler, Mayor of Geneva, joined Director-General Valovaya in cutting the red ribbon to signal the United Nations’ appreciation to the Host Country and Member States for their support of the Strategic Heritage Plan (SHP).

Valued at 836.5 million Swiss francs, the SHP, which is being financed by United Nations Member States, is one the largest renovation projects currently underway in Europe. Switzerland, as Host Country, has extended an interest-free loan of 400 million Swiss francs for the renovation of the Palais des Nations, built in the 1930s.

A key element of this multi-year project was the construction of the new building, a sustainable, 24,000-square-meter space that includes open-plan workstations to host some 1,500 staff members.

Green Roof, Thermal Energy and More

The new building features cutting-edge systems and energy-saving measures to meet the internationally recognised environmental building LEED Gold standard. This is the most widely used sustainable building rating system in the world and a globally recognised standard of sustainability.

Some of its features include:

- a green roof to reduce the excess heat normally generated by a traditional building;

- the use of thermal energy from Lake Geneva to cool the building, which significantly reduces the use of electricity;

- a proportion of the building’s energy comes from renewable sources, including solar panels mounted on the roof, making the new building more environmentally friendly;

- high ceilings, and natural light reduce the need for artificial lighting and energy costs;

- an automated building management system monitors, controls and adjusts the lighting levels, internal temperature and solar shading elements based on human presence, internal and external temperatures and the sunlight, using advanced predictive algorithms; and

- access to terraces and courtyards on each floor for use by staff.

When the Strategic Heritage Plan is completed, this new building will ultimately consolidate an additional 900 UN staff at the Palais des Nations. These staff are currently split over multiple sites in Geneva, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, now located at the Palais Wilson and the Motta site.

Some 3,000 UN staff currently work onsite at the Palais des Nations.

Media Contact:

United Nations Information Service in Geneva ; 022 917 23 02