Built Environment

The quality of our built environment is a key factor for a truly sustainable society. This includes high-quality, yet affordable living and working space, networks for transportation of people and goods and a reliable distribution of energy, water and information.

The Empa Eawag NEST is a modular building with a reinforced concrete backbone and interchangeable living and working units, which enable practical R&D on building materials and technologies, thermal insulation, housing facilities and energy management. It also serves as an important demonstration platform for the scientific community, industrial partners and society at large.

At Empa, research on the built environment is carried out at different levels, starting from the development of new functional materials to the design of advanced systems and their integration into buildings and structures. At an even larger scale, we also look at entire districts and even cities and their interaction with the environment. Key issues at all levels are the minimization of the environmental footprint while guaranteeing a high level of comfort and safety for the users. Our research activities for guaranteeing a sustainable built environment are organized in different modules: Materials & Processes, Structures & Systems, Integration & Demonstration. These modules are all interconnected with each other as well as with two cross-sectional topics: Data Science and Circular Economy.

Rethinking our built infrastructure

Buildings, roads, railways, supply and disposal networks and much more: The entire Swiss built environment is as complex as its challenges for the future – due to climate change, natural hazards, population growth and other factors. Where to start? With which priorities? An expert group has now launched an initiative for an overall view – and is thus giving new impetus for research and practice.