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Dübendorf ZH - Empa and Eawag are expanding their campus. The new buildings will be a model for sustainable construction. The project, which is nearing completion, will showcase ideas for greenhouse gas reduction, circular economy, and energy generation and conservation at construction sites.

The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) and the ETH's water research institute Eawag are expanding their campus on the Empa site in Dübendorf in the canton of Zurich. The development, named co-operate, will soon be ready to open, according to a statement. The extension’s architecture and design are a “role model” for climate- and environmentally friendly construction. They demonstrate approaches for saving resources and minimizing CO2 emissions, which translates into more circular economy through reduced material consumption, as well as gaining and saving energy, it writes.

A triangular building has been erected near the entrance to the campus. The structure is a wood-concrete hybrid construction containing a parking garage and it was created by Implenia. Around 9,300 square meters of concrete ribbed ceilings were replaced with wooden beam ceilings. As a result, the building requires considerably thinner concrete layers and reduces the consumption of cement, a known “climate polluter”.

According to Kevin Olas, Head of Real Estate at Empa, one of the challenging aspects was the unobtrusive installation of lighting, electrical lines and wastewater pipes, so as not to detract from the aesthetics of the hybrid construction. In addition, the designers planned the modular construction using prefabricated parts with a view to climate change. In the future, for example, parts of the building can be converted into workshops as required.

Like building materials such as steel, concrete and wooden elements, human "raw materials" can also be recycled. Urine, for example, can be used as a raw material for fertilizer production thanks to the nutrients it contains, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The urine collection system NoMix-WCs installed in the laboratory building provides the raw material for the recycled fertilizer Aurin, which is marketed by the Eawag spin-off Vuna.

Other environmentally friendly aspects of the campus include photovoltaics, recycled asphalt, and no asphalt in landscaping, which focuses on promoting biodiversity and planting diverse flora. ce/heg