Environmental Policy & Targets

With its environmental policy, the ETH Domain commits itself to its responsibility towards the environment. The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology ETH Zurich and EPFL, as well as the four research institutes PSI, WSL, Empa and Eawag set shared environment-related targets for themselves and provide their services in a manner that conserves resources and is compatible with the environment, while continually optimising their measures.

The environmental policy and the environmental targets are part of the ETH Domain’s environment management system. This enables the ETH Domain to obtain an integrative view of environment and energy issues and to meet the challenges of the Energy Strategy 2050 for the operation of the ETH Domain in an even better way. The ETH Domain’s environmental policy was drawn up by the ETH Board in cooperation with the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology ETH Zurich and EPFL, as well as the four research institutes PSI, WSL, Empa and Eawag, and it takes its bearings from the overriding precepts of the Confederation.


The ETH Domain fully acknowledges its long-term responsibility towards the environment. In their teaching and research, the institutions of the ETH Domain seek to achieve a leading global position in this area. All aspects of their services are provided in as environmentally responsible and resource-saving a manner as possible, and they act as role models in the construction and operation of their facilities. The following principles and fields of activity are defined in the ETH Domain’s environmental management policy:

  • The institutions of the ETH Domain meet all statutory requirements relating to the environment (legal compliance).
  • The institutions of the ETH Domain measure their use of resources and optimise them in terms of environmental impact.
  • The institutions of the ETH Domain construct and operate their buildings, infrastructure and green spaces in compliance with the principles of sustainable development.
  • The institutions of the ETH Domain promote sustainable transport.
  • The institutions of the ETH Domain take environmental concerns into account when choosing suppliers and partners.
  • Employees and students of the institutions of the ETH Domain behave in a proactive and environmentally responsible manner.
  • The institutions of the ETH Domain and the ETH Board prepare a full and transparent annual report on the measurements made, action taken and targets met. This report is made available to the public.


The ongoing development of environmental management in the ETH Domain is evaluated using the following indicators in particular:

  • Efficient energy usage in infrastructure, teaching and research
  • Reduction of direct and indirect emissions (quantitative and qualitative indicators)
  • Efficient use of resources (water, paper, chemicals etc.)
  • Advanced waste management with a high proportion of recycling


The ETH Domain acts as a role model as regards energy. As a member of «Exemplary Energy and Climate» group, it is striving to increase energy efficiency by 25 percent by 2020. The report 2013.2020 shows where the ETH Domain stands today and describes what action is being taken to improve energy efficiency further.

Energy efficiency in the ETH Domain is calculated in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol), the most commonly used international standard for measuring emissions by companies and the public sector. The energy efficiency figure calculated for the ETH Domain covers the ETH Domain’s total energy consumption including all teaching and research activities and the entire infrastructure, as well as the particularly energy-intensive large research facilities. In order to calculate the energy efficiency figure, the energy consumption of each institution of the ETH Domain is correlated with various reference values: full-time equivalents (FTE*), energy reference area**, number of instrument days*** and patient treatments (at the Centre for Proton Therapy, PSI).

However, measuring energy efficiency using a small number of reference values gives only a partial picture of the ETH Domain’s achievements in improving energy efficiency. The real end product of the ETH Domain is knowledge, in the form of teaching and research. A satisfactory measure of the actual energy efficiency that can be generated with this knowledge cannot be ascertained, either quantitatively or qualitatively. Furthermore, research requires substantial energy expenditure in the form of computing power, laboratory technology and testing machines. Technical developments arising out of research findings often lead to a marked increase in energy efficiency in industry – an improvement that necessarily occurs outside the ETH Domain.

* To be able to derive the per capita environmental footprint of the ETH Domain, the FTEs provided by Human Resources were supplemented by the number of students and guests of the ETH Domain. The latter were included with a reduced factor (smaller than 1 per person).

** The energy reference area is equal to the total gross floor area of all below-ground and above-ground spaces that require heating or air-conditioning for their use. The key figure for energy consumption shows the total consumption of heat and power for buildings as well as for teaching and research activities. The energy indicator (MJ per m2 per year) is applied when comparing buildings used for the same purpose.

*** Instrument days are calculated by taking the number of measuring instruments available for experiments in a large research facility (e.g. proton accelerator) at any one time, multiplied by the number of days per year that the research facility is in operation.

Report 2013-2020 “Exemplary Energy and Climate” Download
“Exemplary Energy and Climate” website to the page