Our commitment to sustainability

Leading By Example

The UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) North America Office is the first United Nations entity to obtain LEED Gold Certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Developed by the United States Green Building Council, it provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction.

Our commitment to sustainability through the use of environmentally-friendly building practices and sustainable, recyclable, and energy efficient construction products is evident throughout our eco-office.

The First Step: Office Location

To reduce environmental impact from employees' commute, the first environmentally responsible step for UNEP's North America Office was to pick an office close to a Metro station and numerous bus lines. Placing an office in an existing structure is preferable to building on an undeveloped ("greenfield") site. Being near public transportation increases the likelihood that employees will choose environmentally preferable commuting options. The office space contains a shower, which allows our staff to run and bike to work and gives weary overseas travelers an opportunity to freshen up for a right-off-the-plane meeting. The tiles in the shower area are composed of 55% recycled glass.

How did we do it?

The success in our LEED Gold certification is a reflection of the collaboration taken to make this a reality. UNEP's North America Office worked closely with landlords, architects, contractors, real estate agents and building management companies to create an energy efficient, healthy, environmentally sound and sustainable office.

Around the Office

Our office boasts low-emitting adhesives and paints and individual lighting and thermal controls. But even more so, from floor to ceiling, our office is filled with recycled-content and locally manufactured materials and wood from certified, renewable sources. Here are some examples of green materials:

  • Ceiling with recycled content
  • Carpet with recycled content
  • Doors with Forest Stewardship Council certification
  • Sustainable bamboo trim and flooring
  • Flooring made from recycled plastic bottles
  • Alkemi countertops made from post-industrial scrap
  • Bio-composite desks made from compressed wheat

Recycle, Reuse and Reduce

That's the motto, here at UNEP's North America Office.

Recycle: Our office has dedicated bins to recycle paper, glass and plastic. The surfaces of our conference room tables are made of recycled newsprint and soybean by-products.
Reuse: The furniture, glass panels, work surfaces and millwork are from former offices
Reduce: Nearly 90% of the construction debris has been salvaged. Our office also minimizes energy consumption through the selection and layout of light fixtures to decrease lighting power density. Over 97% of our appliances and equipment are Energy Star rated items.

Want to see how we're reducing our carbon footprint? Click here to see a photo gallery of our office.

"As the voice of the environment in the United Nations, UNEP is proud that its Regional Office for North America has achieved LEED Gold certification. This achievement demonstrate that green building and office practices are indeed possible, through strong partnerships and a shared commitment to our planet."
-Achim Steiner, former UNEP Executive Director