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It is my pleasure, as the new dean of ENAC since January 2020, to write the foreword for ENAC’s 2019 Annual Report. To support me in the strategic leadership and development of ENAC, I appointed two associate deans: Katrin Beyer, who will lead the development of digitalization and open science at ENAC, and Vincent Kaufmann, who is in charge of strengthening interdisciplinary education, communication and knowledge transfer. Together with the three institute directors and three section directors, we now form the new ENAC Direction.

In 2019 and over the last few months, we have been living through times of uncertainty. We have seen unprecedented changes affecting our health, the way we live together and the environment. Urban population growth, climate change, resource scarcity and epidemics such as COVID-19 require new scientific approaches that are able to draw on various disciplines and provide holistic answers. ENAC, with its rarely found combination of architecture and civil and environmental engineering, is well equipped to confront these challenges and provide answers regarding the sustainability of our built and natural environments. Therefore, I am honored to have been elected dean of this amazing faculty for the four years to come.

The year 2019 was marked by several challenges and highlights: first of all, it was EPFL’s 50th anniversary. ENAC scientists and students used the two days of the Open Doors weekend to show and explain their research to a fascinated public of all ages – making the ENAC exhibition a very busy place and a big success. A second challenge was the academic audit by international experts. I would like to thank my predecessor Andrew Barry, the ad interim dean, for his excellent work and guidance through that challenging process.

The academic evaluation confirmed that ENAC is a unique faculty that can make a significant contribution to the transition towards sustainability in the built and natural environments. Rankings, such as the QS ranking, show that each institute is performing excellent research, and we are constantly improving. We can build on this to make contributions to societal and environmental challenges that go well beyond what each laboratory can do by itself. The success of the ENAC-led team that won the Solar Decathlon competition in 2017 when Marilyne Andersen was ENAC dean is an example we can draw inspiration from. Thanks to the highly appreciated leadership of my predecessors, we are a faculty with satisfied and engaged students, a strong sense of community and an eagerness to keep developing. Our two cross-institute teaching programs, Design Together and SKIL, were seen by the audit panel as highly innovative initiatives that might serve as models for EPFL in the future.

Building on these achievements, the ENAC Direction will guide ENAC as it continues to grow and to strengthen its profile. During the next four years we aim to: (i) develop mechanisms to foster collaboration among institutes while maintaining disciplinary excellence; (ii) further enhance the contribution of architecture within ENAC; (iii) improve the gender balance at all levels; (iv) move towards digital technologies and define the role of data science; (v) further develop innovation in teaching and continue fulfilling the needs of practice partners; and (vi) foster knowledge transfer and innovation.

The main vehicles for achieving this are the Research Clusters. We have defined three key research areas that will not only allow us to enhance interaction among ENAC institutes, but that will create interfaces with other faculties at EPFL, as well as with other universities, industry and public authorities. The three research clusters that we will develop in the future are: (i) climate change anticipation, mitigation and adaptation; (ii) digitalization of infrastructure and cities; and (iii) sustainable territories. Furthermore, we will also aim to develop technologies for fundamental utility services across these three research areas. We hope to inform you about the exciting developments of these three clusters next year!

Let me also welcome our new faculty members at ENAC. In 2019, we had the pleasure of hiring top-flight scientists in environmental engineering and architecture. Julia Schmale will reinforce EPFL’s expertise in extreme environments as a tenure-track assistant professor based in EPFL Valais Wallis. With her innovative work in biodiversity and the acclimatization of forests and plants to climate change, Charlotte Grossiord, also appointed as a tenure-track assistant professor, will work in collaboration with the Federal Research Institute WSL. Jo Taillieu and Eric Lapierre, both appointed as associate professors, will offer our students in architecture new approaches inspired by their internationally renowned work and their careers as critics and architects. In terms of promotions, Stéphane Joost at LASIG was promoted to senior scientist (MER).

We are also proud that our researchers received prestigious awards in 2019. Yves Weinand won the “Grand Prix d’Architecture de Wallonie”; Franz Graf was named a “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres” by the French government; Andreas Schüler’s group was awarded the “Watt d’Or 2019”; and Anna Carratala Ripollès received the International Geneva Award, organized by the Swiss Network for International Studies.

Finally, we look forward to sharing ENAC’s achievements in 2019 with you and wish you an enjoyable read!

Claudia R. Binder



Producing more solar energy in winter thanks to snow
Solar panels in the mountains produce more electricity in winter ...
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EPFL goes to New Zealand to study melting glaciers
Four EPFL researchers will explore New Zealand's glacier-fed streams for two months, marking the first step in a global journey that will take them across 15 countries by 2021.
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“I’ve decided to give up my car”
What are the factors that would drive someone to change their lifestyle and, especially, give up their car ?
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New method to determine how safe buildings are after an earthquake
Deciding when it’s safe for a building’s residents to move back in after an earthquake is a major challenge and responsibility for civil engineers.
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Floating research station to explore Lake Geneva
LéXPLORE is a research station inaugurated in 2019 designed to take physical, chemical and biological measurements at high-resolution, in order to reveal hourly, seasonal and long-term changes in Lake Geneva
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New books about mobility and intermunicipal urban projects
How do couples manage the competing demands of work, family and personal life, and how does mobility fit into the equation?
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EPFL researchers simulate the process of adhesive wear
Surface wear describes the process of material loss when two surfaces come into contact with each other.
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Keeping track of fragrances
Fragrances are added in a wide variety of consumer products – cosmetics, detergents, cleaning agents, and air fresheners.
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Cable cars could reshape urban landscapes
For his thesis at EPFL co-directed by the Laboratory of urban sociology (LASUR) and the Laboratory of urbanism (LAMU), Fernando Simas studied how cable cars could be an appealing transportation option for city commuters
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EPFL researchers make a key discovery on how alpine streams work
A study lead by the Stream Biofilm and Ecosystem Research Laboratory (SBER) has prompted scientists to rethink a standard approach used to calculate the velocity of gas exchange ...
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How fluid viscosity affects earthquake intensity
All of these zones contain fluids, which heavily influence how earthquakes propagate.
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Examining the highly organized lives of long-distance commuters
Most studies on long-distance commuters focus on high-ranking executives who live and work in different countries. But I wanted to look more specifically at families ...
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Algorithms to enhance forest inventories
Laboratory of Geographic Information Systems developed a number of algorithms capable of automatically determining certain inventory parameters.
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Using X-ray technology to clear up an archeological secret
Researchers at EPFL have spent months capturing 3D images of a Roman-era chainmail shirt using a computed tomography (CT) scanner.
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EPFL helps revitalize Sarine River habitats downstream of Rossens dam
In 2016, ahead of the first artificial flood to be triggered since the Rossens dam was built, Groupe E energy supplier and Fribourg Canton invited researchers in to conduct an experiment...
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EPFL researchers explore the role of nature in cities
EPFL’s Habitat Research Center launched in 2019 the Landscape Habitats research cluster, which studies the role of nature in cities.
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Two books present the Smart living lab’s research
Entitled Thinking and Exploring, two books from the editorial project “Towards 2050” were published in May 2019 by Park Books
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How your clothes influence the air you breathe
There is growing evidence that our clothing exposes us to particles and chemicals on a daily basis ...
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Website provides real-time forecasts for Swiss lakes
Initially developed in 2016 years ago by Theo Baracchini, a PhD student at EPFL’s Physics of Aquatic Systems Laboratory (APHYS), the platform Meteolakes ...
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Building on our knowledge of the earth’s soils
For the layman, soil is just soil. But for Claire Guenat, a pedologist and researcher at EPFL’s Laboratory of Ecological Systems (ECOS), it is a subject worthy ...
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Software to protect the world’s most endangered species
As the planet becomes warmer and as biodiversity decreases, evolutionary biologists are pursuing two parallel aims ...
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Engineering heat out of metro tunnels
Until recently, engineers have been unable to accurately calculate the amount of heat that a metro tunnel air contains. Researchers at EPFL’s Soil Mechanics Laboratory (LMS) have ...
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EPFL scientists map high-risk areas for Hepatitis E
EPFL scientists have created the first world map of regions with the highest prevalence of the hepatitis E virus (HEV). They hope that their map – freely available online...
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Methods for reducing the risks of melting glaciers
The Laboratory of Hydraulic Constructions teamed up with other Swiss institutions on an eight-year research project on glacial retreat in Peru.
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New collection of critical essays about architecture
Christophe van Gerrewey, a professor of architecture theory and history at EPFL is the author of “Choosing Architecture: Criticism, History and Theory since the 19th Century”
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A blueprint for the EU’s ecological transition
The report entitled The overlooked side of the ecological transition, sets out a series of recommendations on the EU’s ecological transition...
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Daylight levels affect our thermal perception
Scientists at EPFL’s Laboratory of integrated performance in design (LIPID) have taken a pioneering look at how variations in daylight influence our thermal response...
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The right carbon tax to reduce the impact of transport in Switzerland
The Swiss transport sector has become the country’s leading CO2 emitter, accounting for 41% of total emissions. Most of these emissions (98%) come from...
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A new anthology highlights the legacy of Rem Koolhaas
Rem Koolhaas is one of the key architects of the second half of the 20th century. From the United States to China,
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Geneva’s commuters embrace multimodal transport
How do you get around in the Geneva area? Researchers at EPFL’s Urban Sociology Laboratory (LASUR) realised a big survey...
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EPFL champions energy geostructures
EPFL is the only university in the world to offer a specialization in energy geostructures. Its expertise stems from the work of generations of young researchers at the LMS...
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Nitrous oxide emissions set to rise in the Pacific Ocean
A research team discovered that in the subarctic region of the Pacific – near Hokkaido and the Kuril Islands – the water’s lower pH is causing a significant increase in N2O production.
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A more sustainable material to strengthen concrete structures
Amir Hajiesmaeili sought to develop the next generation of ultra high-performance fiber-reinforced concrete...
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Place of residence and sodas, an explosive cocktail
Two researchers produced in 2014 a detailed map showing the spatial distribution of overweight individuals by place of residence in Geneva. The map, which revealed parts of the city with a high...
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During epidemics, access to GPS data from smartphones can be crucial
Researchers from EPFL and MIT have shown that human mobility is a major factor in the spread of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue even over short intra-city distances.
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Gaining insight into the energy balance of earthquakes
Researchers from EPFL and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have made a step forward in assessing earthquake dynamics through a better understanding of how frictional slip...
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How can we make residential neighborhoods more sustainable by 2050?
Judith Drouilles, of the Laboratory of Architecture and Sustainable Technologies (LAST), shows that peri-urban residential neighborhoods consisting of single-family homes have a lot of scope for improvement in terms of sustainability.
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Matières #16: Theory under the spotlight
Issue 16 of Matières (EPFL Press) takes a broad look at the current state of architectural theory and the role it plays in shaping the architectural debate.
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IGLUNA: living in ice
The idea behind the project, known as IGLUNA, was to demonstrate the feasibility of “living in ice.”
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Robots programmed to follow you
About twenty master's students completed a human-robot tandem race in June 2019 as part of the Data and AI for Transportation ...
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EPFL students built a new pavilion at Servion Zoo
What makes the ideal classroom? Where does a structure like this fit in at a zoo?
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Easter Island as search field for EPFL students
EPFL's architecture section has set up an ambitious three-year course to address the environmental challenges of Easter Island...
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The Smart Living Lab hosted three ENAC Weeks for the first time
For the first time, EPFL’s Fribourg campus hosted three ENAC Weeks at once.
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EPFL students envision the 2039 edition of the Fête des Vignerons
The Fête des Vignerons is a snapshot in time. The 2019 edition was no different.
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EPFL students explore the city of Evian
In response to a request from the French-speaking Switzerland chapter of the Swiss Architects’ Federation (FAS), the Atelier de la conception de l’espace took a fresh look ...
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Remodeling ruins to preserve our rural heritage
The small Ticino’s hamlet of Luzzone, located some 2,150 meters high, was abandoned in the 1950s and today lies mostly in ...
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Students head to Chile for a fresh perspective on building
In the Summer of 2019, around 20 architectural, civil engineering and environmental engineering students from EPFL and ETH Zurich flied to Valparaíso, Chile, where they ...
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A new technique to concentrate a fertilizer produced from wastewater
For their semester project, two Master’s students in Environmental Engineering at EPFL, chose to focus on the Yverdon-les-Bains wastewater treatment plant.
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Temporary shelters popping up alongside camping tents
Charles Jenny chose temporary housing as the topic of his Master’s project in architecture, using the 2018 Paléo Festival in Nyon as his case study
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Students turned wood pallets into furniture
Six undergraduate students from ENAC School came up with a plan to transform the wood from discarded pallets ...
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Student fieldwork targets thawing permafrost and an abandoned gulag
Xavier Choitel, a master’s student in Civil Engineering, was a member of a team with students from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) studying the impacts of climate change...
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EPFL students push the boundaries of concrete engineering
In September 2019, 26 architecture and civil engineering students from EPFL and Brazil’s Federal University of Bahia spent 14 days at the Smart Living Lab in Fribourg. The students built a prototype ...
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MAP 2019
MAP, or Master of Architecture Projects, is a committee within the Association of EPFL Students in Architecture (ASAR) and consists ...
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L’Atelier Magazine examines the concept of time
In 2019, L’Atelier Magazine explored the relationship between architecture and time through two complementary issues...
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  • Energy and collaborative research come out on top


  • Yves Weinand, Grand Prix d'Architecture de Wallonie, Prize-winner for the Pavillon du Théâtre de Vidy


Julia Schmale was named as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Extreme Environments
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Julia Schmale is an atmospheric scientist with a global reputation. She actively represents Switzerland on multidisciplinary, international research projects in the Arctic. She is a member of the Atmosphere Working Group of the International Arctic Science Committee, for example. Thanks to her innovative scientific and methodological ability, Julia Schmale will strengthen EPFL’s reputation in areas that are important for the future of society, and contribute to training environmental engineers within the school.
Charlotte Grossiord was named as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Terrestrial Ecology
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Charlotte Grossiord is a highly innovative young researcher. She has achieved international recognition for her work on the contribution of biodiversity to the ability of forests to withstand climate change. In recent years she has focused on the survival potential and acclimatisation of plants as temperatures rise. Among other experiments, she used heat-controlled chambers to investigate the effects of drought on trees under real conditions. Charlotte Grossiord will work closely with WSL, which is co-funding her professorship at EPFL.
Eric Lapierre was named as Associate Professor of Architecture
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Eric Lapierre has achieved considerable international renown as an architect and critic. He is also well-known as a curator, having served as Chief Curator of the Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2019, for example. The residential and public buildings that Eric Lapierre designs at his own architecture firm attract widespread attention. His appointment will strengthen the training of architects at EPFL and boost the university’s international reputation.
Jo Taillieu was named as Associate Professor of Architecture
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Jo Taillieu is one of the best-known representatives of the new wave of Belgian architecture, which has made its mark on the European stage in recent years. As an advocate of critical architectural awareness and a proponent of social responsibility in architecture, and in his role as an architect and partner in a well-known firm, Jo Taillieu has attracted considerable attention in the world of architecture. His appointment enables EPFL to incorporate new approaches to original spatial design into its teaching.
Stephane Joost was promoted to Senior Scientist
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After dedicating his PhD to the novel field of landscape genomics he contributed to pioneer, Stéphane Joost joined the Laboratory of Geographic Information Systems (LASIG) in 2008. He has been very successful in extending his algorithms to new genetic analytical capabilities, new plant and animal species, diverse environmental variables and scales, leading to new opportunities for plant and animal conservation strategies. At the hinge of many disciplines within the Institute of Environmental Ingineering and beyond, Stéphane Joost's novel correlative approaches are also relevant to elicit space-related public health issues, leading to promising collaborations with the HUG, Geneva University Hospital (GIRAPH group), the CHUV, University Hospital of Vaud canton, and several public health state agencies.
Claudia R. Binder was named as Dean of ENAC
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Full Professor, Claudia R. Binder heads the Laboratory for Human-Environment Relations in Urban Systems (HERUS) at ENAC; she also holds the La Mobilière Chair on Urban Ecology and Sustainable Living. In Switzerland, Claudia Binder was appointed to the Research Council, Programs Division of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) in 2016 and serves on the Steering Committee of the SNSF’s National Research Program 71, “Managing Energy Consumption” and the Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research (SCCER). She is also a member of the Steering Board on Sustainability Research for the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. In 2019, she was elected as a member of the University Council of the University of Munich (LMU). At EPFL, she was appointed to the management team of the Energy Center in 2018 and as head of the working group on EPFL’s energy and sustainability strategy in 2019.
Jean-Claude Bolay was named as Honorary Professor
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Jean-Claude Bolay has held the position of Professor in Urban Development at the Architecture Section of the ENAC Faculty.
Alexandre Buttler was named as Honorary Professor
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Alexandre Buttler headed EPFL’s Ecological Systems Laboratory (ECOS) and was in charge in French-speaking Switzerland of the Federal Research Institute WSL.


General statistics 2019


including 285 PhD


624.9 Full time position




Mio CHF of total ENAC budget


Percent of staff between 20 and 40 years old


Research and technology transfer agreements

Finance 2019

Third Party Funds (24Mio CHF)
  • Governement Agencies
  • European research programmes
  • Others
  • Mandates
  • Research Funds
Expenditures (86Mio CHF)
  • Investments
  • Operating Expenses
  • Human Resources

Expenditures by category 2019-2015

Total : 86
  • Personnel
  • Operating cost
  • Investements
Total : 87
  • Personnel
  • Operating cost
  • Investements
Total : 86
  • Personnel
  • Operating cost
  • Investements
Total : 86
  • Personnel
  • Operating cost
  • Investements
Total : 86
  • Personnel
  • Operating cost
  • Investements


The Petrosvibri chair seeks to integrate and combine state-of-art research capacities to understand the challenging geo-mechanical behavior of geological CO2 injection and storage.

The Gaznat Chair on Geo-Energy combine experimental and theoretical research to improve the engineering of subterranean porous reservoir in a sustainable manner. The chair addresses a number of current geo-energy challenges associated with geothermal energy production, gas production and storage.

The Swiss Mobiliar Chair in Urban Ecology and Sustainable Living draws on broad interdisciplinary expertise to develop new research avenues at the crossroads between social and environmental sciences. The chair focuses in particular on relations between humans and their environment in urban systems.

The Margaretha KAMPRAD Chair studies physical processes as an avenue for understanding lake ecosystems, the management of natural water resources and lakes as natural scale-up “laboratories” for stratified environmental flow studies.

The Ingvar KAMPRAD Chair conducts field studies looking at interactions between the atmosphere, cryosphere, ocean, land and human activities. Assuming a perspective of atmospheric science, the goal is to characterize processes that are directly influenced by humans versus natural processes that are undergoing change due to climate forcing.


The Alpine and Polar Environment Research Center (ALPOLE) is based in Sion, at EPFL Valais Wallis. ALPOLE represents a large and synergistic research effort on climate-driven environmental changes and adaptions.

EPFL Habitat Research Center is a trans-disciplinary research platform. Its aim is to explore the urban phenomena and to produce visions, strategies and projects on this primary and crucial topic.

EPFL Transportation Center (TRACE) acts as the interface between EPFL and the outside world for all topics related to transport and mobility of people and goods.

The mission of the Limnology Center is to provide socially-relevant and multi-disciplinary research to ensure the sustainable use and conservation of natural water resources, both on the national and international levels.

The mission of EPFL Energy Center (CEN) is to promote energy research led by EPFL, by challenging state-of-the-art technologies and addressing society’s challenges together to shape tomorrow’s energy system.


Located in Fribourg, Switzerland, the smart living lab is an interdisciplinary, inter-institutional excellence center for the built environment of the future. With its partners, the University of Fribourg and the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg, it aims to further knowledge related to the built environment of the future, both on a technical and on a societal level.

Through ENAC, EPFL is one of 16 founding members of the Fondation Culture du Bâti. The foundation aims to promote, highlight and develop all materials, heritage and content relating to the art of building, construction and landscape. It is a non-profit public-interest organization.

ENAC is represented with two labs in the Swiss national research project “Active Interfaces” which aims to develop a holistic strategy to accelerate the transposition of advanced BIPV adapted solutions into real innovative practices.

ENAC is involved in the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication, initiated at ETH Zurich. The center focuses on research into digital design and manufacturing processes and their synthesis through the use of novel technologies.

EPFL is involved in the Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research program “Future Energy Efficient Buildings & Districts” whose aim is to reduce the end-energy demand of the Swiss building stock by a factor of five during the next decades thanks to efficient, intelligent and interlinked buildings.

ENAC is involved in the Future Cities Laboratory, a research programme established by ETH Zurich and Singapore’s National Research Foundation that aims to develop new knowledge, technologies, and approaches for a sustainable urban future with an Asian perspective.

The EPFL takes part in the Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research program «Supply of Electricity» to carry out innovative and sustainable research in the areas of geo-energy and hydropower. The SCCER-SoE develops new technologies and optimizes existing infrastructures for energy production in the future.

ENAC shares a number of its professors and researchers with the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG).