Nearly three years into the major renovation of the United Nations Headquarters complex in New York, the project is on track to being completed within its almost $2 billion budget, the official overseeing the overhaul said today.
Michael Adlerstein, the Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan (CMP), told a news conference that there are now financial commitments for the CMP totalling approximately $1.5 billion, representing over 75 per cent of the project.
“The procurement of the project is progressing well,” he stated, adding that the projected cost overrun of the CMP has been reduced from being 10 per cent over budget during the first year of the project to now less than 4 per cent over budget.
In 2007, the projected cost to complete the CMP was $219 million over the approved budget of $1.87 billion. Now, it is down to $80 million over budget, he said.
Mr. Adlerstein also told reporters that significant progress has been made during the project’s second year of construction. This includes fitting out swing spaces in several leased buildings, completing the construction of the North Lawn Building and relocating several thousand staff to off-site and on-site swing spaces.
Consistent with original projections, he said it is expected that the reoccupation of the Secretariat Building will start with the return of staff in mid-2012, completing the return to the Secretariat within 2012.
When completed, the landmark 39-storey building towering over the East River and First Avenue in Manhattan will possess the 21st-century trappings of eco-friendly energy conservation, and its now dulled glass façade will be replaced with a new glass curtain resplendent with the same bluish-green tint as in its first incarnation in 1952.
“We project a 50 per cent reduction in energy consumption, as compared to pre-CMP conditions,” said Mr. Adlerstein. “Our greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 45 per cent, and our water consumption will be reduced by 40 per cent.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pledged two years ago to make the UN complex “a model of environmental stewardship” by reducing electricity and water usage, and by removing harmful materials that were used in the original construction.
Speaking at the opening today of the new energy-efficient UN office complex in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, Mr. Ban said the world body is aiming to make its Headquarters complex in New York one of the cleanest, greenest buildings in the world.
He lauded the new complex in Nairobi – with its 6,000 square metres of solar panels and a host of other environmentally-friendly features – as a “model for green architecture in Africa and beyond” and said he hoped all UN offices will reach the very high bar set by those in Nairobi.