The ETH Domain acts as a role model as regards energy. As a member of «The Confederation: exemplary in energy» group, it is striving to increase energy efficiency by 25 percent by 2020. The annual report 2015 shows where the ETH Domain stands today and describes what action is being taken to improve energy efficiency further.

Energy efficiency in the ETH Domain is calculated in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol), the most commonly used international standard for measuring emissions by companies and the public sector. The energy efficiency figure calculated for the ETH Domain covers the ETH Domain's total energy consumption including all teaching and research activities and the entire infrastructure, as well as the particularly energy-intensive large research facilities. In order to calculate the energy efficiency figure, the energy consumption of each institution of the ETH Domain is correlated with various reference values: full-time equivalents (FTE*), energy reference area**, number of instrument days*** and patient treatments (at the Centre for Proton Therapy, PSI).

However, measuring energy efficiency using a small number of reference values gives only a partial picture of the ETH Domain's achievements in improving energy efficiency. The real end product of the ETH Domain is knowledge, in the form of teaching and research. A satisfactory measure of the actual energy efficiency that can be generated with this knowledge cannot be ascertained, either quantitatively or qualitatively. Furthermore, research requires substantial energy expenditure in the form of computing power, laboratory technology and testing machines. Technical developments arising out of research findings often lead to a marked increase in energy efficiency in industry – an improvement that necessarily occurs outside the ETH Domain.


* To be able to derive the per capita environmental footprint of the ETH Domain, the FTEs provided by Human Resources were supplemented by the number of students and guests of the ETH Domain. The latter were included with a reduced factor (smaller than 1 per person).

** The energy reference area is equal to the total gross floor area of all below-ground and above-ground spaces that require heating or air-conditioning for their use. The key figure for energy consumption shows the total consumption of heat and power for buildings as well as for teaching and research activities. The energy indicator (MJ per m2 per year) is applied when comparing buildings used for the same purpose.

*** Instrument days are calculated by taking the number of measuring instruments available for experiments in a large research facility (e.g. proton accelerator) at any one time, multiplied by the number of days per year that the research facility is in operation.