UNMIK greens the blue

Fri, 18/03/16

A few months ago UNMIK (the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo) moved its offices to a more energy efficient compound in Pristina. The personnel were agreed - the move was the perfect opportunity to make some positive changes towards greening the blue and reducing the mission’s carbon footprint in a city that suffers from high levels of pollution. To find out more we interviewed Nazmije Abdurrahmani, UNMIK’s Environmental Officer.

Nazmije, can you tell us about the different ways you’ve made the new mission offices more energy and water efficient?

To cut down CO2 emissions, we made sure the building was well insulated before moving the personnel. Shifting to gas heating was another important change that we made to be more energy efficient. We’ve decreased the number of printers by 15 to encourage personnel to print less and we now have paper consumption software to make sure people don’t overprint. The lights in most common areas are programmed to switch off as soon as they are empty and a wastewater treatment plant has been installed that treats wastewater before it is released in the municipal sewage system. We also installed faucets that automatically turn off and on in several bathrooms to avoid water wastage.  So far, we have reduced our electricity consumption by an estimated 44% since the move.

And what about the compound gardens? Was anything done for a more environmentally friendly outdoors?

To contribute to cleaning the air, 110 trees, 195 shrubs and 230 plants and flowers were planted on the compound and three indigenous plants of Kosovo were planted in a greenhouse. 

Do you recycle?

To recycle regular waste, we have placed new recycling bins in the common areas. We collect our bottle caps not just to recycle but also to contribute to a project run by a young Economics and Management student – the collected caps are sent to Turkey where they are traded with a recycling company for wheelchairs. For every 250 kg of recycled plastic bottle caps, a wheelchair is sent to a disabled person in Kosovo.
For richer soil and to help the plants grow while reducing waste that gets sent to the landfill, a compost collection point will be set up in the spring; all the food waste from the restaurant and coffee shop will be sent to the collection point on a daily basis to make ready to use compost for the garden. There is no glass recycling system in Kosovo, so we have found a way to soon begin sending UNMIK’s glass waste to Bulgaria where it will be recycled.

For waste that can be toxic for the environment, like scrap metal, used tires, ink and toner cartridges, printers and fax machines etc., we work with special contractors who dispose of each type of waste properly.
We are already experiencing the positive impacts of these changes and we don’t want to stop here – there’s still so much more we can do!