Rumba at Eawag (Environment + Energy)

Environmental management systems have been in place at Eawag since the 1990s. Since 2003 these have been implemented in accordance with the guidelines of Rumba. Rumba is the resource and environmental management programme of the ETH domain and of the federal administration system as a whole. Rumba is an ongoing, overarching project with annual action plans and objectives. These are based on an annual compilation of key data collected on a regular basis as part of a systems analysis. Since 2014, Rumba has been operating in the ETH Domain under the name “Environment + Energy”.

Waste disposal

At Eawag all the different types of waste are collected separately and disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Separating waste and working with recycling companies ensures the re-use of raw materials by means of the latest technology.

Ecological purchasing, handling of chemicals

Eawag is one of the founding members of the IGÖB (Interest group for ecological purchasing) and is committed to following its guidelines.

The Ecology Team is committed to the environmentally responsible and efficient use of chemicals at Eawag. All purchases made since the introduction of VSoft and later on SAP can be viewed over the Eawag Intranet (Finances->Purchasing & Procurements).


  • Information is provided on current projects as required. Eawag employees can access information about the activities of the Ecology Team under “News”, and minutes of meetings can be found under Life@Eawag.
  • A short article is prepared for the annual report each year in the spring. This, together with the relevant web page, forms our environmental report.

Projects and initiatives according to areas


100 % renewable energy Eawag

At the request of the Eawag Ecology Team, the Directorate established the following set of ambitious energy objectives on 4 December 2006:

Eawag will take all necessary steps to ensure that the organisation’s entire electricity and heating requirements are met in an environmentally friendly way and by means of renewable energy.

  • As from January 2007, energy procurement has been progressively switched to green electricity that carries the eco-label “naturemade star”, which has now been meeting 100% of the energy requirements at the Dübendorf site since 2010, and at the Kastanienbaum site since January 2012. The naturemade star label was jointly developed by Eawag. It guarantees that hydroelectricity production respects ecological parameters and remains dedicated to sustainable development in general. As it is not possible to make direct use of naturemade star-certified electricity in Dübendorf and Kastanienbaum this is achieved by purchasing certificates. This means that the same quantity of green energy that is purchased by Eawag will be sold elsewhere at the price of normal energy.
  • Eawag ensures that its transport use is carbon-neutral. Carbon emissions, not just from air travel, but from all transport use except for public transport are compensated through an in-house carbon tax and the funding of appropriate projects.

Eawag produces its own solar electricity. On 12 July 2007 the Eawag Directorate approved an expansion of the organisation’s photovoltaic installations. The additional work in Kastanienbaum was completed in autumn 2007. Additional units were installed on the renovated office building in Dübendorf at the end of 2012 and on Forum Chriesbach at the end of 2015.The current installations provide 170 MWh of solar energy to cover internal needs. In 2010 and 2011, 2,000 MWh of naturemade star green energy were purchased, and starting from 2012 the figure was 2,200-2500 MWh. This accounts for 100% of the electricity consumption at the Dübendorf site excluding our own production. Of the purchased electricity, 97.5% comes from naturemade star-certified hydroelectric plants in Thun (AAREwerke), and 2.5% from a wind power plant. As from 1 January 2011, we switched to naturemade star energy from BKW FMB Energie AG, of which, similarly, 97.5% is produced through hydropower, and 2.5% through wind power, and from 1 January 2015, we switched to Energie Thun AG (97.5% hydropower, 2.5% solar power). The naturemade star-certified renewable energy for Kastanienbaum came first from the municipal works in Schaffhausen and Neuhausen am Rheinfall (also 97.5% hydropower). As form 1. January 2015 we switched to Repower AG. Starting from 2012, the certificates purchased were for 675-900 MWh, which again accounts for 100% of the total energy use at the site.

In addition to the carbon tax on air travel (applied since 2003), Eawag has imposed an eco tax on rental car use for business trips since the late 1990s. In 2008 these taxes were reconsidered and reformulated with the aim of achieving a carbon neutral operation. More details on current carbon compensation taxes can be found in the “Travel” section.


The Ecology Team supports buildings-related and operational activities in direct collaboration with the Technical Services department.

In order to meet the growing demand for extra space, Eawag and Empa jointly constructed Forum Chriesbach in Dübendorf. The members of the Ecology Team were consulted from the outset, when the project specification was formulated. Issues of sustainable development were given high priority right from the start. The stipulations were to achieve as high a degree as possible of self-sufficiency in terms of energy supply from renewable energy sources, an exemplary and efficient use of water (including the separation of urine), and the use of environmentally friendly materials and landscaping that provides a beneficial environment for flora and fauna as well as people. Forum Chriesbach became operational in July 2006, since which time it has been the headquarters of Eawag.

Information and pictures

In addition to the ongoing optimisation of operations, a project funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) to determine the energy balance of Forum Chriesbach was initiated in 2008. The project culminated in a public conference (Eawag Forum Chriesbach: vision and reality) on January 23rd 2009. Alongside members of the Ecology Team, experts from Empa and 3-Plan Haustechnik AG were involved in the project.

Having undergone substantial renovation and the addition of two extra floors, the 1960s office building was once again operational. This made it possible to discontinue the rent on an energy-inefficient building.

Renovation work began on the laboratory building in Dübendorf in 2009 and was completed in the spring of 2010; and from 2011 to 2013, likewise on the laboratory building in Kastanienbaum. These projects were particularly complex, as parts of the laboratory had to remain operational throughout the renovation periods. In 2015, the experimental building Aquatikum in Dübendorf was brought into service. This is the first laboratory building in Switzerland certified according to the Swiss label Minergie P Eco. Experimental facilities were expanded in 2016 by 36 outdoor research ponds.

Landscaping remains an important concern. In June 2008 Eawag was awarded a prize by the conservation club of Dübendorf for the near-natural design and maintenance of the company grounds.

A project to revitalise the Chriesbach started 2005, initiated by Eawag in conjunction with our partners. The Canton of Zurich was responsible for construction and maintenance planning. The revitalisation of the first section of the stream was completed in 2010, and a second section at the end of 2012. On 4 April 2012, the Zurich Cantonal Government approved the allocation of funds for the continued implementation of the project. The main works took place in 2013. The project included an outdoor laboratory in and around the part of the stream that runs through the Eawag grounds. The revitalised stream and outdoor laboratory were officially opened in May 2014.

Mobility Management

Facilities for staff along with measures which help to create a coherent travel management strategy are continually increasing in both number and scope. In 2014, the shower area in Dübendorf was renovated, and the corporate travel figures were published on the Eawag website for the first time, on the “Environment and Energy” page. From 1st January, 2015 the Job Season Ticket is being introduced for staff. The company’s endeavours towards corporate travel management are listed here [pdf].

Use of public transport

The concessions offered by the government in order to promote more environmentally-friendly passenger transport for both business and private purposes are further enhanced by Eawag (funded by car-parking fees and the CO2 and incentive levy for car use). This measure has been in place since 2002, and was the initiative of the Ecology Team.

In total, private general season tickets were subsidised by CHF 1,255 (2nd class) and CHF 1,630 (1st class). In line with general government policy, staff who have worked for the company for at least a year receive a half-fare season ticket free of charge.

The ZVV BonusPass, Z BonusPass and Passepartout Job Season Ticket (for LU, OW & NW) offer benefits to Eawag staff members who live in the vicinity of their workplace. There is often no advantage to buying the General Season Ticket for these individuals, and the half-fare season ticket is also hardly worth their while as this does not give a discount on season tickets for a specific route. The Job Season Ticket therefore plugs a gap. The cost of the Season Ticket is lowered with a contribution from Eawag that is greater than the difference between the Season Ticket price and the full price. In addition, the Job Season Ticket enables the holder to use the regional transport network at a reduced price.

Flights and CO2 compensation

The CO2 compensation levy for flights is charged at a minimum of CHF 20 and a maximum of CHF 200. The proceeds from this are used in implementing CO2-saving measures at Eawag (for an overview of the current initiative, see the Cycling section below). Where externally-funded flights are concerned, support has been given to myclimate - the Climate Protection Partnership since 2003.

Tips for when considering transport options for business trips:

  • Keep delegation size to a minimum
  • Consider telephone or video conference as an alternative
  • Combine trips or take on a brief on behalf of a colleague
  • Use the train, and, where possible, sleeper train, for inland trips of under 800 km (have your say regarding start times of meetings)
  • Avoid continental flights of under 600 km (e.g. to Amsterdam or Vienna)

Calculate the most environmentally-friendly travel option:


Important information:

  • Environmental pollution: air travel within Europe creates five to six times the pollution of rail travel.
  • Journey time: The total journey time by plane is longer than it takes by rail in the case of rail journeys under five hours.
  • Costs: Going by sleeper train can save work time as well as saving on hotel costs.

Presentation «Fly aware» [pdf]


Eawag received awards from ProVelo Switzerland in 2004 and 2009 in recognition of its work to improve bike access to public transport.

Cycling promotion is funded through an internal incentive levy on air travel.

Infrastructure: In Dübendorf, Eawag instigated the extension of the cycle and footpath along the banks of the Chriesbach. Since 2010 the path has run underneath a heavily-used crossroads. At Stettbach station, lockable bike parking is operated jointly with Empa. The site is rented from the Dübendorf municipal council. It was renovated in 2010 and extended to accommodate a total of 140 bicycles; the space is already full to capacity. The bike stands on the Dübendorf and Kastanienbaum grounds have also been upgraded, with electric charging points installed at both sites. As far as repairs are concerned, there are cooperative agreements in place with local bike shops.

Bike collection and borrowing scheme: An annual scheme is in place to collect up abandoned and faulty bicycles. So far, fifty have been repaired and made available as company bikes for staff to borrow free of charge for up to a year on payment of a deposit. Eawag colleagues can contact the repair shop if interested. Bikes can also be borrowed for just a few hours at a time free of charge (please enquire at Reception). A similar offer exists for staff and guests in Kastanienbaum.

Bicycle-friendly organisation and further details on bike borrowing

Since 2006 we have been successfully participating in the ‘Bike to work' initiative.


Staff restaurant aQa

Eawag’s Forum Chriesbach building houses a modern, spacious and attractive staff restaurant offering a range of nutritionally balanced, seasonal dishes, including organic options. On the strength of extensive and detailed investigations and visits to benchmark establishments, we entrusted the management of the restaurant to Eldora AG. The restaurant aQa is Goût Mieux certified and also complies with the fish list published by WWF Switzerland. The Ecology Team provides advice in relation to the Goût Mieux guidelines, and supports this operation with initiatives and campaigns.

The restaurant aQa is also open to the public (Monday to Friday, 08:00 - 15:30).