Carbon Footprint

For the first time, the Smart Living Lab illustrates its carbon footprint, based on data showing annual greenhouse gas emissions generated by the bluefactory innovation district, collected by Bluefactory Fribourg-Freiburg SA and Climate Services SA. This report allows to establish a clear diagnosis of all sources of emission by the Smart Living Lab and its partner institutions (EPFL, School of Engineering and Architecture Fribourg and University of Fribourg), whose employees are active members on site. This process seeks to assess the CO2 impact of the research center in order to meet the carbon neutrality goals set by the Swiss government.

© Aline Deschenaux

The Smart Living Lab’s activities generated 87 tons of CO2 in 2019. The total emissions of all 70 Smart Living Lab’s employees (46 FTE) working on the bluefactory site amount respectively to 1.2 and 1.9 tons of CO2 (tCO2) per employee and per full-time equivalent (FTE).

For comparison purposes, activities from companies in the industrial sector in Western Switzerland generate emissions between 10 and 30 tCO2 per employee, those in the construction sector, from 3 to 8 tCO2, and those in the services sector, from 1 to 3 tCO2.

The category responsible for the most important climate impact is business travel, with 76% of the total emissions, whereas 90% is generated by air travel, amounting to 60 tons of CO2.

There follows commuting, which generated 15 tCO2. 85% of kilometers covered for home-work commuting is done by either public transport or soft mobility, which represents 15% of emissions in this category, i.e., 2.3 tons of CO2. Inversely, car journeys represent only 15% of kilometers covered, but generate 85% of the CO2 emissions linked to daily mobility.

Regarding Blue Hall carbon footprint, emissions are extremely low due to the fact that space heating on the bluefactory site is provided by a heat pump with an electrical source of hydraulic origin. Likewise, electricity emissions are almost zero, since they are supplied by a hydraulic source.  

Emissions related to office material amount to a total of 3 tons of CO2, and come mainly from 17 new computers bought in 2019.  

In addition to the possible efforts still to be made in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions stemming from its activities, the Smart Living Lab helps chart a path towards the carbon neutrality of the built environment thanks to its research and development projects. Different tools are proposed by Smart Living lab’s researchers to professionals in the design and construction sectors in order to help reduce carbon footprint. Construction technologies are developed to focus on reusing structures and low carbon footprint materials, which are responsible for most emissions generated by the built environment. Within this context, the Smart Living Lab will begin in 2021 the construction of an experimental building on the bluefactory site, which will be a demonstrator in this area.

Translation: Véronica Cubarle (EPFL)


Martin Gonzenbach

Director of Operations EPFL Fribourg and Smart Living Lab
-modeling, simulations and algorithms
-technology transfer