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UN offices in Geneva look to the lake for green energy

by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) March 19, 2008
The United Nations has long enjoyed the glorious view of Lake Geneva from its offices here, but will now turn its setting to a practical advantage by using its water to heat its buildings.

The UN will invest 35 million Swiss francs (35 million dollars, 22 million euros) in the project which also involves other international organisations, the head of Geneva's chief utility company SIG told journalists on Wednesday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Labour Organisation and the World Health Organisation will all also use the system to heat their offices from next year, SIG director Philippe Durr said.

The scheme consists of pumping water from the lake at a depth of 30 metres (100 feet), and 300 metres from the banks, to both cool and heat buildings' systems.

It is already used by the pharmaceutical company Merck Serono in their Geneva offices, "but it has never before been developed on such a scale," Durr said.

The head of maintenance services at the UN's Palais des Nations, Anatoly Kondrachov, said the new scheme should cut carbon dioxide emissions by 2,200 tonnes per year.

The UN will hold a series of ceremonies on Friday to mark World Water Day.

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