Management of Natural Resources and the Environment

One of Empa’s Research Focus Areas concerns natural resources and innovative ways to reduce their consumption as well as the use of environmental technologies to curb emissions of pollutants. It goes without saying that the institute is also working to minimize its own ecological footprint. To this end, Empa pursues an active environmental management.

The former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, who in 1987 on behalf of the United Nations (UN) published the sustainability report "Our Common Future", defined the concept of sustainability as a term referring to a way of living that could be sustained long into the future. "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs", she wrote in the report that later on was named after her.

Our environmental mission statement

When assessing the sustainability of its activities, Empa adheres to the Brundtland definition, thereby taking into account requirements in terms of economic, environmental and social sustainability. It focuses on those activities, in which it can make a significant contribution to sustainability aspects.

Empa is committed to contributing to the lasting protection of the natural foundations of life. Empa’s environmental mission statement provides the framework for the setting of environmental objectives and targets. The vision “Empa 2030” and the strategy for sustainability integrated therein form the basis for Empa’s environmental mission statement. Moreover, Empa also complies with the principles of the “Resource and Environmental Management in the Federal Administration” (RUMBA) program.

VBE Energie-Vorbild Bund - The Swiss government as example in the energy sector

Being part of the ETH Domain, Empa is reporting results and measures in the sector of environment, energy and mobility to the secretariat of VBE (Swiss Government as Energy Example). VBE is part of the federal strategy to reach the goals of Switzerland in view of the energy targets for 2050. The reporting includes: reductions, efficiency improvements, measures (39-point list for construction, mobility and ICT).


RUMBA is a program for systematic resource and environmental management in the Federal Administration, as defined in the Federal Council Decree of 15 March 1999. The main objective of RUMBA is the continuous reduction of environmental pollution, which always includes the economical and efficient use of energy. It is largely based on the ISO 14001 methodology and was introduced throughout the ETH Domain.

At the end of 2016, RUMBA became a permanent mandate of the Confederation. In an interim phase 2017 to 2019, the ETH Domain will no longer be part of RUMBA, but will continue to orient itself voluntarily to the specifications and reporting. The final definition of RUMBA's mandate as of 2020 is currently in preparation.

Energy Agency of the Economy EnAW
Empa voluntarily participates in the EnAW energy model. In this way, we commit ourselves to ongoing measures and monitoring to meet agreed targets for environmental and climate protection. The EnAW monitors the achievement of targets with annual controls and confirms this with a certificate.
How does Empa travel?

The summary of the relevant material and energy flows and the assessment of these flows with regard to greenhouse gases (IPCC 2013 100a method) and total environmental impact (Environmental Impact Points 13 method) give the following picture: