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 aspects: Improve biodiversity in the Empa area, make things look 'nice', make employees feel proud of their campus

There's a lot of potential to improve biodiversity around Empa SG, with a lot of green space... and an own creek. And along this creek, the path is the Jakobsweg, going all the way to Santiago de Compostela! The Empa/Eawag campus in Dübendorf is also exceptionally nice with the Glatt creek running through it. We would 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
  • Improve 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 have 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   16. September 2022  -  Save the date!

This is a day organized annually, by Empa and Eawag jointly, in Sankt Gallen and Dübendorf. The goal of the official national Clean-Up-Day is to pick up litter, we do this at the Empa/Eawag property and beyond, along the creeks. But this is not our focus, as our colleagues from the real estate management do a very good job in keeping things clear. We support the facilities management by proposing and realizing activities which are normally too labor intensive. Like erradicating neophytes, planting things, cutting reed, digging ponds etc.etc.
The previous editions of the Clean-Up-Day (11. Sept. 2020, 17. Sept. 2021) were a very positive experience for the participants. Lots of sweating but also lots of fun! 


Slow traffic 

We would like to promote and facilitate the use of bicycles 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 01.01.20


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  -  Nora Bartolomé, Andreas Bill, Heinz Böni, Andrin Büchel, Urs Bünter, Eleonora Crenna, Harald Desing, Yvonne Elbs, Marcel Gauch, Charles Marmy, Ursina Marseiler, Cecilia Matasci, Kirsten Remmen, Marta Roca, Andrea Wehrli, Rolf Widmer, Ursula Zeller

Dübendorf  -  Yannic Trüb, Timon Gysel

Thun  -  

Eawag  - Dominik Scheibler (Contact Person) and people from the environmental group

A BIG thank you to the ones who were part of the Grassrooters!

Alexandra Schutzbach, Véronique Adam, Beatrice Salieri, Olga Sambalova


A country-wide anti-littering initiative, see 

Empa/Eawag Clean-Up-Day 2021



Good to know:

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

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

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