Sustainable products & services

Solar power for the Green Village

Implenia is developing a sustainable office project for international organisations in Geneva. The site won’t just look green, but will provide tenants with an environmentally friendly power supply.

There are nearly 200 global governmental and non-governmental organisations in Geneva. One of these, the World Council of Churches (WCC), has its headquarters in the city’s international district. The complex includes a large assembly building, four annex buildings and a library. 

In 2011, the WCC, an ecumenical organisation representing more than 500 million Christians, asked Implenia to make its site, which is as big as four football fields, fit for the future. The resulting “Green Village” project includes the renovation of the main ecumenical centre. In the naturally landscaped, diverse gardens that surround this central structure, Implenia is also creating six new buildings that will be rented out to other organisations and businesses. The project will be completed in stages, finishing in 2026. 

The Green Village won’t just look green, but will also follow the WWF’s “One Planet Living” philosophy. One of the WWF’s stipulations is that energy consumption must be covered by sustainable sources. The best way to do this is to produce electric power on site, so Implenia is setting up a solar system on the roofs of the new buildings. 

The architecture is designed to ensure that as many solar panels as possible can be installed. Six solar power plants with a total of 1,900 solar modules, are planned, all connected together in a “microgrid”. This will allow the future tenants to draw electricity directly from the roof of their, or a neighbouring, building. 

Self-sufficient communities like this have been possible in Switzerland since the beginning of 2018. Using their own power within a local network, they relieve demand on the national grid and provide users and tenants with green energy on favourable terms. The Green Village will eventually produce 600 megawatt-hours of solar power a year, which is enough to cover around a fifth of the site’s needs.

The self-sufficient community is not funded and operated by Implenia itself, but by Swiss Solar City, a Basel-based company that runs solar systems throughout Switzerland. It guarantees operations for 25 years, and during this period will sell the solar power to the users and to SIG, the city of Geneva’s power supplier.

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.