Carbon Neutral UN Building In Africa A First

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi has become the first carbon-neutral building in Africa by using solar power. A system of over 4,000 modules were installed on the roof of the new UNEP offices by German firm Energiebau Solarstromsysteme GmbH. The 515 kilowatt solar project was connected to the grid on February 21st, and is expected to generate more energy than the 1,200 employees in the building will need.

The solar panels were manufactured using technology from German companies SCHOTT Solar and SMA Solar Technology, as well as modules from the Japanese firm Kaneka. Solar energy has been something the U.N. has been targeting in Africa for years. And now that the building’s sustainable energy supply is online, it is the largest on-roof solar power system on the continent.

image via UN

As part of the partnership with Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, Energiebau employees have been training local Kenyans about the installation process. In the future, a solar academy will be built in Kenya in cooperation with the German solar manufacturers. A video about the training and installation process will be released in April, and a trailer is currently available to stream online.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.