23 December 2021 New guidance aims to significantly reduce environmental impact of newly established UN offices

Introducing the much-anticipated launch of IDEAs: a new guidance report that sets out Important and Desirable Environmental Actions for establishment of 'green' UN offices. 


According to the UN's annual environmental inventory, office premises are responsible for most of the UN system's environmental impacts. Thus, UN offices play a significant role in the system-wide efforts to combat climate change from within. 

IDEAs: Important and Desirable Environmental Actions, (hereafter IDEAs) aims to assist UN country teams to select and establish 'green' (efficient and resilient) office premises by defining key performance benchmarks across a range of environmental topics addressed by the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the United Nations System 2020-2030, Phase I: Environmental Sustainability in the Area of Management. These topics include:

  • Energy and GHG Emissions
  • Solid Waste Management
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Water and Wastewater Management
  • Biodiversity
  • Sustainable Procurement

Aims and Objectives 

The aim is to address and embed environmental sustainability from the earliest possible stages of office establishment, well before the offices are occupied by UN entities.  Such approach maximises implementation of sound green building practices at zero or low cost, and provides a robust foundation for effective management of offices once occupied. 

IDEAs’ main focus is on permanent office premises that could either be:

  • Existing and ready for occupation
  • Existing requiring a degree of renovation (e.g., fit-out only or fit-out and major renovation) prior to occupation
  • Newly designed and constructed

IDEAs define four levels of performance depending on office size, location and operational context.  For offices that are over 5,000m2, IDEAs recommend third-party certification against the leading international green building standards such as LEED, BREEAM, Green Star and equivalent. 

The guidance is predominantly aimed at UN technical personnel and suitably qualified external contractors.  It can also be used by non-technical UN personnel, particularly at Level 1 performance aimed at smaller buildings up to 1,000m2, to communicate UN requirements to relevant external parties and / or to identify aspects that require additional technical input.

More information

View the IDEAs report 

For more information, please contact greeningtheblue@un.org

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