Sustainability Grassroot Group

Switzerland pursues sustainability issues in accordance with the UN goals for sustainable development.

Empa has committed itself to fulfilling the Federal Administration's climate package of July 2019, which means, among other things: Complete CO2 neutrality by 2030. Sustainability issues also concern Empa employees in their private lives, whether through their commitment to environmental issues or to social issues. In some cases the desire has arisen to make a small contribution to a more sustainable Empa.

This led to the idea of founding a Sustainability Grassroot Group of colleagues who would like to make a voluntary commitment to sustainability. In this way they are supporting Empa in the 2020-2030 countdown to climate neutrality.


How can sustainability be promoted at Empa? Our recipe is: passion, cooperation, creativity and science.


We are students, professionals, doctoral candidates, assistants, project managers, etc. with different professional backgrounds and from different countries. But we are not just that! We are also volunteers willing to support Empa on the road to greater sustainability and accompany it on the countdown to climate neutrality.

The initiative started in St. Gallen and soon spread to Dübendorf. We are passionate, we are curious, we have interests and in some cases also expertise in the field of ecological sustainability. For us, being sustainable means, for example, increasing biodiversity, promoting less polluting mobility, improving waste management and stimulating the consumption of local, seasonal foods.

The first long-term focus of our group activities is biodiversity. We want to promote indigenous plant diversity, because a natural structure can in turn host and feed insects, birds, hedgehogs, etc. Empa already has encouraging steps in this direction in the pipeline. We look forward to being able to contribute something to this and perhaps even realize a few visions beyond that.

We would be very pleased to receive suggestions for a more sustainable Empa, and to hear from colleagues from Dübendorf, St. Gallen or Thun who would also like to get involved. If you would like to get in touch with a grassrooter or write to !

Our ambitions

First guests in our new bee house!

Focus for 2020: Improve biodiversity in the Empa area

There's a lot of potential to improve biodiversity around Empa SG, with a lot of green space... and a creek! And along this creek, the path goes all the way to Santiago de Compostela! We would first like to monitor the existing biodiversity. As time goes, we hope we'll be able to improve it! Soil quality, flora and fauna will be monitored from 2020 onwards. Below are some ideas we would like to implement to make our ecosystem richer:

  • Plant endemic and diverse species in the Empa area, eradicate neophytes
  • Plant a garden with pro Spezie Rara and install a compost, possibly using vermiculture
  • Biodiversity in the urban area,
  • Make our roofs green, which would attract insects and birds and avoid flaming the gravel layer
  • Support the creek correction, including a pond 
  • Store carbon with biochar
  • ... And why not having more humans in this green area too? We hope we'll be able to initiate the construction of a recreation and pic-nic area by the creek.


Clean-Up-Day   11. September 2020  -  Save the date!

This is a day organised annually, by Empa and Eawag jointly, at Saint Gallen and Dübendorf. The aim is to pick litter up at Empa property and beyond, along the creeks. More info to come soon...


Slow traffic 

We would like to promote and facilitate the use of bicycle and possibly scooters to commute from train stations. Our ideas?

  • Set up parking facilities at SG railway station
  • Secure parking at Empa 
  • Create options for bicycle or scooter rental or purchase for temporary employees
  • Use of income from parking lots to promote slow traffic and public transport.



Evaluation of the Empa flight compensation scheme from 1.1.20


Nutrition and waste management

The cafeteria is another place where sustainability can be improved. We would like to facilitate better organic, paper and plastic waste management. Compost is considered for organic materials (to be reused on Empa's land) and KUH-bags for plastics. Regarding nutrition, we would like to be able to buy healthy and fresh food and use the products of our garden (pro Spezie Rara) for our lunches. 


St. Gallen  -  Véronique Adam, Andreas Bill, Heinz Böni, Urs Bünter, Eleonora Crenna, Michael Gasser, Charles Marmy, Cecilia Matasci, Hugh Morris, Marta Roca, Beatrice Salieri, Lorena Toledo, Andrea Wehrli, Rolf Widmer

Dübendorf  -  Thomas Amelal, Matthias Diethelm, Olga Sambalova

Thun  -  

Good to know:

The Scientists for Future are committed to various aspects of sustainability.

You can commit voluntary to refrain from short-haul business flights: "I won't do it under 1000 km"!

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