A long-term sustainable use of resources and the environment will secure humanity’s basic needs. Energy, climate, food, future cities and the handling of complex risks are all topics of global importance in which ETH Zurich has established itself as an international centre of excellence and reference.
Most ETH departments and a growing number of competence centres are researching and creating solutions to ensure the sustainable development of our society.
In the field of energy, ETH Zurich has contributed significantly to implementation of the Federal Council’s Energy Strategy 2050. ETH is leading three of the eight Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research (SCCER) centres: power supply, energy efficiency in industry and mobility. Under the umbrella of the Energy Science Center, researchers from engineering, the natural sciences and social sciences are working together on renewable energies and their integration into the energy infrastructure, and on sustainable business models for the energy sector.
In climate research, ETH Zurich is working with partners to set up the Swiss Polar Institute; it also operates the National Centre for Climate Services (NCCS). Competencies relating to climate simulation and the modelling of its future development are combined in the Center for Climate System Modelling (C2SM). Climate scientists and researchers from various departments are also investigating how climate change affects ecology, the economy and society. ETH climate experts are involved as authors in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.
Research at the World Food System Center (WFSC) contributes to long-term food security. Agricultural, environmental and nutritional scientists are working with industry partners to develop innovative approaches to the question of how the world’s growing population can be sustainably and consistently supplied with high quality, healthy food. This requires environmentally friendly and robust production systems.
In the field of high density urban area development, ETH Zurich researchers at the Singapore ETH Centre are investigating the progress of sustainable urban development under different cultural, climate and economic conditions. The Future Cities Laboratory brings researchers from different disciplines together with designers and architects.
ETH takes a systematic and interdisciplinary approach to addressing the potentially enormous impact of global risks. The ETH Risk Center combines competencies from eight departments. The Future Resilient Systems project at the Singapore ETH Center examines how critical infrastructures can be better protected in modern, innovation-driven companies. The expanded Zurich Information Security & Privacy Center (ZISC) researches information security.
News on sustainability
“Asphalt has a major downside”
Together with scientists from Empa, ETH Professor Jan Carmeliet studied the latest heatwave last June. ETH News asked him where is the most pleasant place to be in Zurich in summer, and which structural measures should be taken to protect cities from extreme heat events. Read more
Unbalanced wind farm planning exacerbates fluctuations
If European countries cooperated better in the field of wind energy, wind power output would fluctuate less. This is the conclusion reached by a group of energy and climate researchers at ETH Zürich and Imperial College London, who for the first time have combined a long-term analysis of predominant weather patterns with Europe-wide wind electricity generation. Read more
Mountain forests don’t need humans – but we need them
Forests in the mountain regions of our planet are fragile ecosystems, suffering from the impact of climate change. However, to survive in the long-term, these ecosystems do not need human intervention. It is rather the humans in the mountain regions who depend on healthy forests and the protection they provide. Read more