Initiatives: Local action
for sustainable development

Serono / ScanE-SIG / FIPOI

Lake water to the rescue

New apartment blocks, schools and international organization buildings in the UN region could all be heated and cooled with water from Lake Geneva by 2009 through a CHF 35 million scheme launched by local authorities under the European Union's Concerto program. High-powered heat pumps will take water from the lake. Pipes 30 meters below ground will deliver it to the UN district. The returning water can be used to irrigate parks and gardens. In cold periods the system will reduce consumption of electricity considerably, perhaps by 50% in all.

The Foundation for Geneva's International Organization Buildings (FIPOI) has already opted to install the water cooling system in three administrative buildings and three conference buildings, including the Geneva International Conference Centre.

The technology itself is already operating in the district. The giant Serono biotechnology company started working on a heating and cooling system for its new global headquarters and research center using this design in 2003. The State Energy Department (SCanE) and the Industrial Services of the State of Geneva (SIG) worked with Serono on developing the UN district project while the Lausannebased Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) collaborated in validating its technical aspects.

The Swiss Association for Spatial Planning (ASPAN) gave its 2005 Prize to this public-private partnership, and the European Union is supporting the SIG/SCanE project with €2 million. SIG and FIPOI are now promoting the project to other international organizations in the hope of using all the power at its disposal.