UNEP: Energy Neutral UN HQ in Nairobi with Microsoft's ITPAC Data Center

Energy Neutral UN HQ in Nairobi with Microsoft's ITPAC Data Center

While the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has been climate neutral as an organization since 2008, they took on the tough challenge of developing a state of- the-art, energy neutral UN headquarters office building in Nairobi, also their headquarters.

Having carried out comprehensive background studies on areas such as energy production, lighting and hardware, it became clear that the greatest challenges in achieving energy neutrality were the high-energy components, specifically IT and lighting.

Relying on traditional IT would consume so much energy that the goal of energy neutrality would be unreachable. Microsoft provided consulting advice and worked with UNEP through their public-private partnership to help develop IT policies, practices, and identify technologies gleaned from best practices from its global business, as well as the industry.

Air conditioning in data centers accounts for up to 90 percent of IT energy consumption, so it is vital to think beyond computers when planning green IT solutions. Microsoft began working with UNEP to implement the first green data center in Africa capable of helping the organization achieve its goal of carbon and energy neutrality.

As a result, Microsoft's IT Pre-Assembled Components (ITPAC) technology, manufactured by technology partner Saiver, was recommended to help the building become a more energy efficient showcase demonstrating responsible stewardship of the environment. The expected energy savings are such that the cost of purchase can be recouped in less than five years through savings in electricity bills.

Not only are green IT practices helping UNEP achieve energy neutrality and increase efficiency in the new UN HQ building in Nairobi, but they also provide additional benefits in terms of a more flexible IT environment. The highly scalable foundational IT infrastructure provided by the ITPAC can be useful for future ICT expansion into cloud computing, unlocking benefits in IT efficiencies and achieving further reductions in energy and carbon emissions.