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EPFL has been applying stringent sustainability criteria to all its operations for decades and intends to pursue this effort even more vigorously in the future.

Created 10 years ago, the EPFL’s Sustainable Campus unit, attached to the VPRHO, presents a strategic plan for the period 2018-2020. The main focus is on intensifying efforts within the framework of the environmental and social transition advocated by both international and national bodies (implementation of the Paris Agreements) while covering 5 strategic dimensions around the global governance, the academic domain, the research and  innovation domains, the campus community and the operations.

Towards CO2 neutrality

Sustainable Campus EPFL has so far developed its activity mainly in the field of operations. The launch of the first Act for Change initiative in 2015 made it possible to further broaden the reach through a wide participation and interaction of the campus community. With the objective of setting up a real living laboratory on sustainability, we propose to formalize a strategic program based on 5 pillars: Overall Governance, Education, Research and Innovation, Community and Operations; and to define 5 actions which fit and feed them.

1. Zero-Carbon

Accelerate EPFL’s reductions and become the first Swiss zero-carbon campus by 2020.

A total reduction program of approximately 6’000 tons of CO2 with the renovation of the central heating/cooling plant, the decrease in emissions from motorized individual transport, the decrease in the volume of CO2 emission from airplane flights, and the abandon-replacement-compensation of natural gas used for the disinfection of rodent cages. Compensation is to be addressed in a second phase.

2. Core sustainability

Strengthen EPFL’s governance of sustainability through a systematic approach, integrating all the institution’s academic and operational missions and choosing an appropriate sustainability reporting standard.

With a view to developing a real living laboratory for sustainability on campus, it seems crucial to integrate the academic dimension more strongly into the activities of the Sustainable Campus Unit in its three dimensions: research, education and innovation. It is also necessary to associate the other Vice-Presidencies for information systems as well as for finances into the thinking.

3. Act for Change Lab

Set up a support platform for student projects in the field of sustainability, based on the commitment of a specialist in setting up sustainability projects and on the creation of a support fund for projects financed by the CO2 levies collected by the EPFL.

The project was presented to the U-Change program (Swiss Academy of Sciences). It was accepted in September 2017 and will help launching and testing this action during the 2018-2020 time frame.

4. Resilient Campus

Adapt to climate change, control energy consumption, improve well-being and favor biodiversity.

Like all cities and towns, the campus must prepare its adaptation to climate change. Increasing urban temperatures are leading to ever-increasing air-conditioning requirements, which are undermining the desired energy savings and making some areas uncomfortable for the population. Moreover, the strong urbanization of EPFL in recent years has not allowed the question of outdoor developments to be dealt with all the necessary attention and care.

5. Urban Farming

Develop EPFL’s agricultural and rural lands through a participatory agro-ecology project.

The Bassenges Farm could become a new lung of the campus and a place of information and demonstration of the social and environmental transition under way. This project will associate all the stakeholders to design a model of sustainable exploitation.