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NEST Podcast: The Future of Construction

NEST is a place where people build, work, live and exchange ideas about the future of construction. A lot of exciting people visit NEST every day. Here they share their ideas, visions and opinions with others and help to advance the building sector. In our series of NEST Podcasts we want to give these people a voice. Peter Richner, Deputy CEO of Empa, talks to his guests about innovation in the construction industry, about opportunities and obstacles and about many other things that drive the construction sector. (The talks are held in German.)
Episode 22: Keeping the construction industry on the political agenda – with Hans Wicki, President of Bauenschweiz
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June 21, 2022 – Almost half a million skilled workers are employed in the Swiss construction industry. Bauenschweiz, the umbrella organization of the Swiss construction industry, pools their interests and represents them vis-à-vis politicians and society. Since 2016, the president of Bauenschweiz has been Hans Wicki, a member of the Council of States for the canton of Nidwalden and former head of the building department and member of the cantonal government. In the 22nd episode of the NEST podcast, Peter Richner talks to Hans Wicki about our dependence on energy from abroad, about building permit procedures that don't want to end, about bans and democratic participation – and about the inhibitions to reach for one's own wallet when it comes to sustainable solutions.

 

Episode 21: Rethinking construction: From polluter to vacuum cleaner – Swissbau opening speech by Peter Richner
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May 12, 2022 – At the opening ceremony of this year's Swissbau in Basel, Peter Richner held a speech on the future of the construction industry. He showed that the construction industry can and must make an enormously important contribution to reducing CO2 emissions. To do so, however, it is crucial that it takes a new direction and transforms itself from being a polluter to a vacuum cleaner. In this special episode of the NEST Podcast, which is a recording of Peter Richner's speech, you will learn how the construction industry can accomplish this. The presentation is also available on YouTube (in German).

 

Episode 20: Paving the way for sustainability – with SIA President Peter Dransfeld
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March 30, 2022 – For almost a year now, the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects SIA has had a new president: Peter Dransfeld. He has been committed to sustainable solutions for decades: both as an architect – Peter Dransfeld is one of the pioneers of solar architecture – and as a politician and private person. In the 20th episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to Peter Dransfeld about the activities of the SIA for more sustainability in construction, about the need for the building industry to catch up – and about violating and overestimating standards.

 

Episode 19: A swarm of drones that protects buildings – with aerial robotics expert Mirko Kovac
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February 24, 2022 –  Today, people mostly use drones to take beautiful aerial photos. However, they offer much more potential - especially in the construction sector. In the 19th episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to Mirko Kovac about this potential. Mirko has been fascinated by robots and drones since he was a child. Today, he is head of the "Materials and Technology Center of Robotics" at Empa and director of the "Aerial Robotics Laboratory" at Imperial College in London. In this role, he researches and develops flying robots. The two talk about how in the future not only individual drones but an entire ecosystem - in other words, a swarm of drones - will be used to maintain, analyze and, if necessary, repair buildings. This will massively reduce the need for materials and the risk of accidents, while at the same time expanding the scope for action. In addition, the conversation also focuses on Mirko's vision of robots living together with humans as artificial living beings in the future.

 

Episode 18: Building on data - with digital expert and architect Birgitta Schock
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January 27, 2022 –  Digitization is the buzzword of the moment and has found its way into numerous industries - including the construction sector. However, what does digitalization actually mean for the construction sector? Birgitta Schock deals with this question. She is president of the SIA's council of experts for Digital Transformation and identifies the driving topics of digitalization for the construction and real estate industries - and she is the guest on the eighteenth episode of the NEST podcast. As an architect, she is also familiar with the challenges and hurdles in architecture and construction. The conversation between Peter Richner and Birgitta Schock focuses on "digitization blockers", the added value of data and why we are only beginning to exploit it, and the accelerants that are driving digital transformation. 

 

Special episode: A glimpse behind the scenes of NEST – with Reto Largo, Managing Director of NEST
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December 22, 2021 –  At the end of the year, the NEST Podcast gives a glimpse behind the scenes of NEST. In this special episode, Peter Richner talks to Reto Largo, Managing Director of NEST. Together they look back on their personal highlights of this year - from the two unit openings HiLo and Sprint to a very pleasant and a rather unpleasant mouse visit to NEST. They also talk about construction topics that are currently concerning us and will continue to do so in the future: How do we make re-use acceptable? How can the construction sector achieve the net-zero goal? And how do we really bring all the great NEST concepts into the industry?

 

Episode 16: The future of concrete – with Holcim innovation strategist Simon Wiedemann
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November 29, 2021 –  Concrete is the most criticized building material, but also the most used. Simon Wiedemann, the guest of the 16th episode of the NEST podcast, operates in this area of tension. He has been working for Holcim for around 20 years and, in his current role as Head Solutions & Products, is responsible for shaping Holcim's global product portfolio in an innovative and sustainable way. In the conversation between Peter Richner and Simon Wiedemann, they talk about different ways of reducing the carbon footprint of concrete, the demand for more ideas from research – and how pilot projects can help to take off.

 

 

Episode 15: Blueprint for innovative building - with architect Silvan Oesterle
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October 29, 2021 –  In innovative building projects, the role of architects is central and enormously challenging - because they are the ones who pull all the strings. In the fifteenth episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to someone who knows this role inside out: Silvan Oesterle. He is co-founder of the architecture firm ROK, works as a lecturer at the Accademia di architettura di Mendrisio, and is the lead architect in the latest NEST unit STEP2 - which focuses on the marketability of innovations.
In their conversation, the two shed light on how architects can successfully integrate innovations into building projects, why they should no longer see themselves only as software users but also as software developers, and why architecture is "people business".

 

 

Episode 14: The aesthetics of PV modules – with designer Lynn Balli
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September 22, 2021 – In February 2021, the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, together with Empa, organized a design competition. The aim was to create PV modules as design objects. The designs were presented to the public and a jury. The winning project, named "Glasklar", now adorns the façade above the main entrance of the NEST building. In the latest episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to the textile design student whose design convinced the jury: Lynn Balli. In the conversation, the two shed light on how design can make renewable energies more attractive and promote them. In addition, Lynn Balli talks about the challenges she encountered in designing the material, which was rather unusual for her, and how she managed to breathe life into glass.

 

 

Episode 13: About life cycles in construction — with Professor Catherine De Wolf
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July 29, 2021 – It is well known that the construction sector contributes a large share to global greenhouse gas emissions. In most cases, only the emissions caused by the operation of buildings are considered. However, if we want to achieve our CO2 reduction goals, we have to take into account the entire life cycle, from construction and operation to demolition. In the thirteenth episode of the NEST podcast, Peter Richner talks about this topic with Catherine De Wolf. She has recently been appointed as professor at the ETH Zurich this year and is an expert in circular construction. The conversation also focuses on the crucial factors for implementing the concept of "Re-Use" in the construction sector and on the true price of materials. The talk is held in German at the beginning and then in English.

 

 

Episode 12: CO2 law, what's next? — with Gian-Luca Lardi, president of the Master Builder's Association
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June 25, 2021 – According to the Swiss Association of Master Builders, modern construction is the most important lever for climate protection because the Swiss building stock is responsible for 45 percent of energy consumption and 24 percent of CO2 emissions. The construction industry can therefore make an important contribution to energy efficiency and the reduction of CO2 emissions. In the twelfth episode of the NEST podcast, Peter Richner talks to Gian-Luca Lardi, President of the Swiss Association of Master Builders, about the CO2 law that was rejected by the Swiss voters, about why replacement buildings need equal rights to energy-efficient renovations, and what the "zero-risk devil" is all about.

 

 

Episode 11: The foundation for the next generation – with ETH Rector Sarah Springman
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May 27, 2021 – To keep the construction sector moving forward, the foundation laid by colleges and universities is crucial. They must respond to current trends and anticipate future developments in order to equip graduates with the necessary tools for their future careers. In the eleventh episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner welcomes ETH Rector Sarah Springman. The two talk about the major challenges of the pandemic for universities, the importance of getting students excited about technical courses at an early age - and the surgeons of the underground.

 

 

Episode 10: Building with the big picture in mind – with architect and engineer Werner Sobek
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April 27, 2021 – Calling a spade a spade: That's the first step towards constructive problem solving – even when it comes to the sustainable use of resources and the resulting emissions in construction. In the tenth episode of the NEST podcast, Peter Richner welcomes architect Werner Sobek, a pioneer in sustainable building culture and a man of clear words. Together, the two take a look at the construction industry and beyond, pleading for honesty and transparency in thinking, speaking and acting – and defusing linguistic smoke petards in the process.

 

 

Episode 9: Wastewater as a resource – with environmental engineer Tove Larsen
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March 25, 2021 – Turn old into new: Not only used materials can be recycled, but resources can also be recovered from wastewater. In the ninth episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks with Tove Larsen, environmental engineer and member of Eawag's board of directors, about the impact of innovations in water supply and wastewater management. They speak about what valuable things we flush down the toilet, why problems should be solved directly at the source, and why wastewater does not lie.

 

 

Episode 8: The virtuoso interaction of the different spheres of the National Councilor, researcher and entrepreneur Bastien Girod
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March 1, 2021 – In order to achieve the change towards a climate-friendly society, it is important that research, business and politics work closely together. In the eighth episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to someone who has been working for climate protection and sustainability in all three spheres for years: Bastien Girod. The two talk about the challenges for a researcher in politics, about the opportunities that arise when you master the keyboard of the different spheres – and about the danger that comes from sorcerer's apprentices.

 

 

Episode 7: From dismantling to re-use with Kerstin Müller – a "hunter" for building components
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January 29, 2021 – Reusing building materials and entire building components is one possible approach to circular and resource-efficient construction. The architect Kerstin Müller of Baubüro in situ has been advocating this for years, has implemented several lighthouse projects, and is thus familiar with the challenges of re-use. In the 7th episode of our NEST podcast, Peter Richner talks to Kerstin Müller about the hunt for used materials, restrictive standards and laws – and about a dating platform for building components.

 

 

Episode 6 with CEO Christian Buhl
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December 17, 2020 – Christian Buhl is CEO of the Geberit AG. The globally operating Swiss company is the European market leader for sanitary products. As a graduate physicist and economist, Christian Buhl knows both the research and the industry side. He began his career at Geberit AG in 2009, initially responsible for "Strategic Planning". Since 2015, Christian Buhl has been managing the business of the entire Geberit Group as CEO. In the sixth episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to Christian Buhl about the relevance of innovation in the sanitary sector, the gradually increasing importance of "net zero emissions" for investors, developing countries in the sanitary sector - and black swans in the construction industry.

 

Episode 5 with business leader Karin Lenzlinger
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November 18, 2020 – Karin Lenzlinger managed the family business Lenzlinger Söhne AG for decades until 2019. Located in the Zurich Oberland region, the SME is active in the finishing trade business. Today, Karin Lenzlinger is president of the Zurich Chamber of Commerce and holds several board of directors and executive board mandates in a wide range of industries. In the fifth episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to Karin Lenzlinger about the tension between tradition and innovation in an SME, about the "protected" construction industry - and about the pricking of growing plants.

 

 

Episode 4 with architecture professor Fabio Gramazio
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October 06, 2020 – Fabio Gramazio is Professor of Architecture and Digital Fabrication at ETH Zurich and is one of the international pioneers of digital construction. Together with his partner Matthias Kohler, he was responsible for the architectural concept of NEST and was also significantly involved in the realization of DFAB HOUSE. In the fourth episode of the NEST podcast, Peter Richner talks to Fabio Gramazio about the resinous path towards a digital building culture, about the dangers of a revolution and the patience required for evolution – and about the complexity of trees.

 

 

Episode 3 with TEC 21 Editor-in-Chief Judit Solt
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August 20, 2020 – Judit Solt is Editor-in-Chief of TEC21, the leading technical and scientific construction journal in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. As a graduate architect, she also works as a freelance architectural critic, writes articles for newspapers and books and is involved in competition juries and expert commissions. In addition, she is a board member of the "Haus der Farbe" school of design. In the third episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to Judit Solt about the important role of architects in the planning and realisation of buildings, about the difficult relationship of engineers to art - and about criticism of architectural critique.

 

Episode 2 with Council of States member Damian Müller
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July 16, 2020 – Damian Müller (FDP) has been representing the Canton of Lucerne in the Council of States since 2015 and is a member of the Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy Committees ESPEC. In his function, Müller played a key role in the total revision of the CO2 Act. The law has now been discussed by both the Council of States and the National Council and is expected to pass in the autumn session of 2020. In this second episode of the NEST podcast, Peter Richner talks to Damian Müller about the coupling of buildings and mobility for CO2 reduction, about the demands of politics towards research - and about underground cities.

 

Episode 1 with SIA president Stefan Cadosch
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June 8, 2020 – Stefan Cadosch is president of the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects SIA and owner of an architectural office. The SIA has over 16'000 members and represents the interests of architects and engineers in politics and society. The SIA is also known for its important body of standards. It develops, maintains and publishes numerous standards, regulations, guidelines, recommendations and documentation that are of vital importance for the Swiss construction industry. In the first episode of NEST Podcasts, Peter Richner talks to Stefan Cadosch about the tension between standardization and innovation, about hypes in architecture – and about expensive violins.

 

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