ESCAP Joined Ban Ki-moon’s “Cool UN” Initiative to Cut Emissions at Bangkok UN Compound

Thermostats turned up and dress code relaxed to save energy

The main United Nations premises in Bangkok joined the New York Headquarters today to turn up thermostats by 2°C in an effort to reduce the use of air conditioning and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Most staff members came to work wearing lighter clothing, including national dress.

Following the announcement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday to start a “Cool UN” campaign by turning up thermostats to 25°C at the New York Headquarters, beginning on 1 August, Noeleen Hezyer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), decided to extend the initiative to the main UN compound in Bangkok which also houses a dozen other UN entities.

Similar to the arrangement put in place in New York, ESCAP also adopted a more relaxed dress code. Men are encouraged not to wear neckties and jackets. The less formal dress code also applies to diplomats at the UN in New York. Launching the campaign, which will initially run on a trial basis for the month of August, Mr. Ban said, “We have succeeded in moving climate change to the top of the international agenda for action, and this means that the UN must take action itself. We must lead by example and if we are to ask others to take action, we must do so as well.”

ESCAP has already been carrying out a number of measures to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2002, by replacing aging and energy inefficient systems and appliances such as power transformers, elevators, air conditioners, lights and pumps, ESCAP has been able to reduce electricity consumption by about 16 per cent annually.

Pilot solar panels and wind turbines have also been installed on the ESCAP service building, with a combined generating capacity of about ten kilowatts. The installed capacity of renewable energy will increase as additional funds become available.

Water usage has also been reduced by 30 per cent annually since 2004 by replacing all water closets with lower usage models in combination with using recycled water for the main gardens.