The World Council of Churches has called its construction project “Green Village” for good reason: Implenia is carrying out the redevelopment in Geneva in accordance with comprehensive sustainability principles.
Geneva, on the River Rhône, is truly a world city, playing host to around 200 governmental and non-governmental organisations. One of these, the World Council of Churches (WCC), which represents more than 500 million Christians, has its headquarters in the city’s international quarter. The WCC complex consists of several buildings, among them the listed Ecumenical Centre with its large congress facility and is set in a generous park. Implenia was given the job of making WCC’s headquarters fit for the future. The resulting “Green Village” project includes the renovation of the listed central building, while six new buildings, providing offices, apartments and a hotel, are being built in the surrounding gardens. Green Village is one of the first projects in Switzerland to put the “One Planet Living” philosophy into practice. This philosophy is based on ten principles for sustainable neighbourhoods. Its primary aim is to reduce CO2 emissions during both construction and the building’s operational phase by, among other things, selecting the right materials and using renewable energy. A large solar energy system, for example, is being installed on the roofs.
“One Planet Living” also includes other environmental measures, such as reducing and recycling waste, green mobility solutions and promoting biodiversity. Emphasis is also placed on social issues, such as encouraging neighbourliness, using regional resources, involving local businesses and promoting community well-being. More on One Planet Living.
With regard to the sustainability of the Green Village project, WCC and Implenia are working with two organisations: on the one hand, the Swiss Association for Sustainable Districts and, on the other, Bioregional. In consultation with the Association's experts, a detailed sustainability action plan with targets for all ten fundamental principles of One Planet Living was drawn up. In March 2021, the Association coordinated an audit of the measurable indicators in the planning phase and certified satisfactory compliance with the objectives. This assessment is carried out by a group of independent experts.
The sustainability action plan is also submitted to Bioregional, where it is currently being reviewed (status: October 2021). It will be subject to leadership review and may receive One Planet Living leadership recognition or another One Planet Living classification depending on Bioregional's assessment.
The action plan is a dynamic document that will grow with the project not only during the development phase but also during construction and later, when the buildings are in operation. The Swiss Association for Sustainable Districts is the body that will continuously monitor compliance with the specifications from the action plan, issuing recommendations and a certification at specific stages of the project, if criteria are met. The next revision phase is planned for the end of the construction period of the first buildings, i.e. around 2023.
As the project progresses, WCC and Implenia are also considering application for other labels or certifications, for specific buildings. However, WCC and Implenia want to maintain an ongoing sustainability action plan for the entire neighbourhood that is monitored throughout the life of a project, not just during the construction phase or when the building is delivered. For this reason, both parties aim to continue to work with the One Planet Living principles for Green Village.