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Secretary-General announces "Cool UN"

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altThe United Nations launched the “Cool UN” initiative during the summer of 2008 to green the UN system from within. Trough “Cool UN” the UN will set an example in the global fight against climate change by reducing the organization’s emissions and increasing awareness among its staff. During the “Cool UN” initiative in summer 2008, the United Nations staff was, for example, encouraged to dress in lighter clothing for a business setting, including national dress. The “Cool UN” trial period in August 2008 resulted in savings of 30 million pounds of steam, translating into 2,000 tonnes of CO2. This is the carbon footprint equivalent to a passenger making 710 round-trip trans-Atlantic flights.

Due to the success of the “Cool UN” initiative, the Secretary-General has announced that the programme will resume at Headquarters beginning on 15 June 2009 and continue for a period of three months. At the Headquarters complex, the thermostat settings will be lifted from 72 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit in offices and from 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the established conference rooms. During the weekends, most of the air conditioning systems will be switched off.


Greening the UN Tips


  • Set up your printer to double sided printing.
  • Reduce the size of the image to be copied or printed.Use smaller margins on pages to be printed.
  • Chose smaller fonts and font sizes when printing.
  • Use reusable mugs, lunch bags, and trays.


  • Offset carbon emissions for all official travel and switch to ‘green’ energy.
  • Travel in coach class instead of business class.
  • Reduce the weight of goods and items carried to below 20 kilograms.
  • Encourage tour operators to book direct flights rather than ones with detours or stop-overs.

Personal life 

  • Wake up with a traditional wind-up alarm clock rather than the beep of an electronic one. This can save almost 48 grams (g) of CO2 per person per day.
  • Replace a 45-minute workout on a treadmill with a jog in a nearby park. This saves nearly 1 Kg of the main greenhouse gas.
  • Shut down your computer and flat screen both during lunch break and after working hours will cut CO2 emissions generated by these appliances by one-third.
  • Invest in a water-saving shower head will not only save 10 liters of water per minute, but will also slash CO2 emissions resulting from a three-minute hot shower by half.

Building and Infrastructure

  • Outfit all bathrooms with water-saving toilets.
  • Allow adjustments to air conditioning in individual offices, including ability to switch it off entirely.
  • Re-fit water fountains to remove metallic taste to deter staff members from buying bottled water.

Food services and recycling

  • Compost food scraps and grass clippings on site.
  • Provide paper products for take-out as opposed to plastic, aluminum or other materials.
  • Beef up resources to improve the programme to recycle old computers.
  • Place containers on each floor of UN offices for recycling all materials possible.

Copyright, United Nations, UNRIC, 2009. All rights reserved.