Greening Initiatives at UNDP's Country Office in Brazil

Fri, 04/10/19

UNDP Brazil has done solid work on sustainable operations and greening initiatives, not only to promote a better work environment, but also to benefit from the efficiencies and cost-savings of actions. 

Energy efficiency initiatives

Brazil is a tropical country with a very expensive electricity, which is why the country office (CO) has introduced several energy efficiency initiatives. The integrated air conditioning system, for instance, monitors usage, maintenance and energy waste management, and includes technology that automatically turns units off when the office is empty, guaranteeing that the UN House in Brazil only consumes energy as needed.

The Brazil CO has also recently established a cooperation with CIAS, through which the office is now monitoring the energy usage per building, as well as important circuits to advance on the solar panel projects for the future. In addition, the CO has already negotiated with the electricity provider on how to return energy back to the grid, seeking to reduce the cost of batteries for the solar panels’ implementation.

Finally, a windmill was built in 2015 to feed the irrigation system of a garden at UN House, which reduces the energy needed to pump water from the well. According to the UN House manager, Mr. Walter Campos, “the cost of maintenance is very low, approximately $70 a year”.

Nonprinting

Another greening initiative is the Joint Operations Facility as part of the One UN Business Operations Strategy, by which the entire process of procurement and travel is conducted online through a modular system, thus avoiding printing. In addition, the office has adopted a series of nonprinting technologies such as security printing, sustainable consumable chain, equipment’s electricity efficiency and a professional scanning center; which, alongside with a campaign to increase awareness and reduce the printing figures, has already reduced printing by 30% this year.

CO2 emissions

Regarding corporate practices, UNDP Brazil has a telepresence technology, the OneICTBox with added VoIP integration, through which the office can conduct online meetings. This technology has not only reduced the landline phone cost by approximately 25%, but it has also reduced the need for travel. Due to this and other sustainable measures, the staff of UNDP Brazil travels 232% less than UNDP’s staff Global average, helping to reduce CO2 emissions. 

Additionally, in 2019, the Brazil CO is promoting a full scope project in cooperation with the Local Staff Association to eliminate plastic, creating an impact from the internal to the external environments, therefore promoting a cultural change and a zero-carbon footprint for the office.

Sustainable Office Project

A group of volunteers are currently working in the Sustainable Office Project, which includes several initiatives including the aforementioned telepresence technology, the use of electrical cars and the zero-plastic policy.

Through the zero-plastic initiative, the food trucks that serve lunch and snacks at the UN House have ceased to supply any plastic disposable materials. Plastic utensils are also being gradually phased out of all meetings or gatherings in the office.

The Brazil CO diverts 28% of its total waste, either by recycling or by composting for gardening waste use. In addition, the UN House has containers for disposing specific waste, such as electronics and glass.

Ecological market

In 2019, UNDP Brazil introduced an initiative to promote sustainable agriculture, reduce the carbon footprint and boost the economic development of smaller producers with a weekly ecological and organic market. The fair has been a success, selling a variety of products, from non-GMO fruits and vegetables to homemade jams, and has encouraged UN staff in Brazil to buy locally and organically.

These greening initiatives confirm that the CO is seeking a greener and better future not only for its staff, but also for society as a whole. From now on, the goal is to improve the business practices observing green aspects to our own cultural change and to impact the world we live in.  

Categories: Energy, ICT, Meetings, Procurement, Staff Engagement, Travel, Waste