Sven Eggimann


Dr. sc. ETH Sven Eggimann

Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology
Urban Energy Systems Laboratory

Überlandstrasse 129
8600 Dübendorf

Tel:     + 41 58 765 49 94

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Sven Eggimann is an experienced researcher of next-generation urban infrastructure systems. His particular interests lie in sustainable transitions of current infrastructure systems, the water-energy-climate nexus, sustainable urban planning, geospatial analysis and next-generation infrastructure systems. He works as a Scientist at EMPA in the Urban Energy Systems Laboratory.


Sven Eggimann has a highly interdisciplinary background; His research is bridging the fields of urban planning, economics, environmental sciences and engineering. His research is motivated by the challenge to transition our urban built urban environment and infrastructure systems into a sustainable future.


Before moving to empa, he was part of the Infrastructure Transition Research Consortium leading the development of a national energy demand simulation model for an integrated system-of-systems model (called NISMOD2) at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. He received a PhD at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (eawag) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). In his PhD thesis, he analysed the potential for a sustainability transition of decentralised wastewater treatment systems and the role of data-driven technologies. For his work, he received one of the prestigious ETH medals. Prior to this, he was awarded an MSc in Geography with a specialization in Geographical Information Systems at the University of Zürich.




Research projects and focus

You find below a selection of ongoing and past research interests.



Superblocks: Alternative street use in cities to foster urban greening

Superblocks have initially been proposed in Barcelona as an innovative and unconventional urban transformation strategy to create pedestrian-centric neighbourhoods. In the case of Barcelona, the ideal superblock consists of 3x3 urban blocks with interior and exterior streets, where interior streets are transformed to allow for new shared urban uses. The transformation of urban space through this urban design strategy can take on many forms, but crucially reduces space assigned to car-based traffic to enable alternative uses such as urban greening, pedestrian or cycling zones. Assessing unconventional urban design approaches are a necessity due to the manifold challenges today’s cities all over the world are facing due to climate change, urban heat island effects, air or noise pollution. Addressing these challenges is particularly crucial due to policies promoting further densification of existing urban space, which will increase potential environmental stresses due to the increasing number of people living in urban areas. Superblocks are one promising strategy to tackle multiple problems in high-density living areas. This project is financed by the Swiss National Foundation.


  • To explore the potential of superblocks for different case studies.
  • To assess the impact of superblocks on urban mobility
  • To develop an automated data-driven procedure for the geospatial identification and evaluation of urban greening potentials.

Keywords urban green, satellite image processing, urban mobility, urban heat island effect, ecosystem functions

 Eggimann (2022) The potential of implementing superblocks for multifunctional street use in cities. Nature Sustainability.

 Eggimann et al. (2022) Evaluating superblock design to enhance urban greening.



Urban densification and its impact on energy

With different computational and data-driven methods, scenarios of re-densification and the resulting energy performance of neighbourhoods are investigated. Many open questions remain about the positive and negative impacts of urban densifications, where data-driven opportunities enable more integrated analysis. 

In a research project financed by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy and in collaboration with KCAP Architects&Planners and Wagner Vanzellathe potential of urban densification and its resulting influence on energy consumption as well as embedded emissions of neighbourhoods and districts were investigated. Project results shall support decision-makers in regional and urban development processes in Switzerland. 


  • Developing machine learning techniques to classify the urban built form
  • To assess sustainable post-war densification
  • Neighbourhood analysis of embedded energy and choice of materials

Keywords machine learning, data-driven neighbourhood densification, densification and urban connectivity

 Project Report (2021): Urban densification and its impact on energy use in Swiss cities



Mitigating the impact of climate change on cooling and heating demand

This research thrust focuses on quantifying the impact on the energy system of future climate and other socio-technical factors such as population dynamics or technology uptake. Cooling and heating demands are simulated bottom-up and top-down at a local and national scale. 

Bottom-up building energy simulation methodologies are combined with machine learning techniques to classify the building stock into different building archetypes to upscale local building simulation results to national demands. Different sources of uncertainties are considered, such as climate based on the preparation of a set of climate data projections. High-resolution cooling and heating demand simulations at local and national scales allow exploring the energy transition towards more sustainable energy infrastructure. This includes the large-scale introduction of heat pumps, the impact of air-conditioning diffusion or passive cooling opportunities to mitigate climate change.


  • National scale bottom-up energy simulation and validation of geospatial clustering errors
  • Simulating future cooling and heating demands for buildings
  • Energy system impacts of the integration of novel energy technologies

Keywords energy system modelling, heat pumps and air conditioning, passive cooling, building stock energy simulation

 Mutschler et al. (2021): Benchmarking cooling and heating energy demands with respect to climate change, population growth and device uptake.

 Eggimann et al. (2019): A high-resolution spatio-temporal energy demand simulation to explore the potential of heating demand side management with largescale heat pump diffusion.



Urban water-energy-climate nexus and data-driven opportunities to improve sustainability in cities

Urban water and energy systems are being redefined for a digital age, promising substantial advantages for service users and providers, and for society as a whole. I'm interested in the benefits and challenges of smart systems in future smart cities and how this could bring about a sustainability transition. 


  • Opportunities and pitfalls of novel sensing and data-driven technologies to improve urban sustainability

Keywords data-driven urban water management, smart energy,

 Moy de Vitry et al. (2019): Smart urban water systems: what could possibly go wrong?

 Eggimann et al. (2017): The Potential of Knowing More: A Review of Data-Driven Urban Water Management.



Master Thesis (past and ongoing)

Please contact me if you are interested in doing an MSc thesis on one of my research topics. Find below some co-supervised thesis:





In preparation or under review


  • Perera A.T.D., Khayatian F., Eggimann S., Orehounig K., Halgamuge S. (under review): Machine learning to quantify the propagation of climate-induced uncertainties in energy systems.
  • Orehounig K., Fierz L., Allan J., Eggimann S., Natasa V. (under review): CESAR-P:  A dynamic urban building energy simulation tool. Journal of Open Source Software.
  • Eggimann S, Mutschler, R., Orehounig, K., Fiorentini, M. (under review): Climate change shifts the trade-off between lower cooling and higher heating demand from daylight saving time.
  • Allan J., Eggimann S., Wagner M., Ho Y.N., Züger M., Schneider U., Orehounig K. (under review): Operational and embodied emissions associated with urban neighbourhood densification strategies. Energy and Buildings.
  • Chaudry M., Jayasuriya L., Hall J.W., Jenkins H., Eyre N., Eggimann S. (under review): Impacts of decentralised operation of integrated energy systems.



  • Eggimann S. (2022): The potential of implementing superblocks for multifunctional street use in cities. Nature Sustainability.
  • Eggimann S. (2022): Expanding urban green space with superblocks. Land Use Policy, 106111.
  • Eggimann S., Vulic N., Rüdisüli M., Mutschler R, Orehounig K., Sulzer M. (2022): Bottom-up building stock clustering of Switzerland. Energy and Buildings. 111844.
  • Rüdisüli M., Romano E., Eggimann S., Patel M.K. (2022): Greenhouse gas emissions in electricity: Assessing impacts of different decarbonization strategies. Energy Policy.
  • Silva* R., Eggimann* S., Fierz L., Orehounig K., Baldini L. (2022): Opportunities for passive cooling to mitigate the impact of climate change in Switzerland. Building and Environment.
  • Eggimann S., Lischer P., Bolliger J. (2021) Evaluating superblock design to enhance urban greening. Journal of Physics: Conference Proceedings, CISBAT.
  • Eggimann S., Wagner, Ho Y.N., Züger M., Schneider U., Orehounig K. (2021): Geospatial simulation of sustainable urban densification potentials. Sustainable Cities and Society.
  • Mutschler R., Rüdisüli M., Heer P., Eggimann S. (2021): Benchmarking cooling and heating energy demands with respect to climate change, population growth and device uptake. Applied Energy, 288, 116636.
  • Eggimann S., Wagner M., Chen T., Ho Y., Schneider U, Orehounig K. (2020): Sustainable urban densification potentials: a geospatial analysis of Swiss post-war neighbourhoods. IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci. 588 022040.
  • Zorn C., Koks E., Eggimann S. (2020): Demand side management to improve electricity network resilience. ArXiv Pre-Print.
  • Eggimann S., Wagner M., Chen T., Yoo N.H., Schneider U., Orehounig K. (2020): Sustainable urban densification potentials: a geospatial analysis of Swiss post-war neighbourhoods. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 588, 1.01 – 1.05. 
  • Eggimann S., Usher W., Eyre N., Hall J.W. (2020): How weather affects energy demand variability in the transition towards sustainable heating. Energy, 195C, 116947.
  • Moy de Vitry M., Schneider M.Y., Wani O., Manny L., Leitão J., Eggimann S. (2019): Smart urban water systems: What could possibly go wrong? Environmental Research Letters, 14, 8, 081001.
  • Eggimann S., Hall J.W., Eyre N. (2019). A high-resolution spatio-temporal energy demand simulation to explore the potential of heating demand side management with largescale heat pump diffusion. Applied Energy, 236, 997-1010.
  • Eggimann S., Truffer B., Feldmann U., Maurer M. (2018) Screening European market potentials for small modular wastewater treatment systems – an inroad to sustainability transitions in urban water management? Land Use Policy, 78, 711-725. https://doi. org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2018.07.031
  • Eggimann S., Mutzner L., Wani O., Schneider M., Moy de Vitry M., Beutler P., Maurer M. (2017). The Potential of Knowing More: A Review of Data-Driven Urban Water Management. Environmental Science & Technology, 51 (5), 2538–2553.
  • Eggimann S. (2016) The optimal degree of centralisation for wastewater infrastructures. A model-based geospatial economic analysis. Doctoral Thesis. ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
  • Eggimann S., Truffer B., Maurer M. (2016a). The cost of hybrid waste water systems: a systematic framework for specifying minimum cost-connection rates. Water Reserach, 103, 472-484.
  • Eggimann S., Truffer B., Maurer,M. (2016b): Economies of density for on-site waste water treatment. Water Reserach, 101, 476-489.
  • Eggimann S., Truffer, B., Maurer, M. (2015): To connect or not to connect? Modelling the optimal degree of centralisation for wastewater infrastructures. Water Research, 84, 218 – 231.
  • Eggimann, S., 2013: Potential for a sustainability transition of decentralised wastewater systems for Switzerland on the level of urban structural units. Master Thesis. University of Zürich, Switzerland. Link 



Media coverage of my research



Other publications and blogs



  • ETH-Medal for outstanding doctoral thesis, ETH Zürich, Zürich, 2019
  • #1 Prize: Best Masterthesis, Swiss Society for Applied Geography (SGAG), Olten, 2014