Sustainable Built Environment

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

The new Empa Eawag guesthouse 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.

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 cities and their interaction with the environment. Key issues at all levels are the minimization of the environmental footprint while still guaranteeing the same or better comfort and safety for the users.

Technology transfer to industry is fostered by large-scale demonstration projects. In both the construction and energy sector, it is nowadays extremely challenging to rapidly bring new ideas and products to the market. High investment costs in the construction business inhibit the companies’ risk propensity. Under the leadership of the two research institutes Empa and Eawag, the experimental building NEST has been built on their campus in Dübendorf. This novel guesthouse and working place aims to accelerate the market entry of new construction materials and building technology innovations. NEST offers researchers and research-driven companies the opportunity to validate new technologies at full-scale; innovative materials and systems can thus be implemented and monitored under real-world conditions.