Zurich Climate Prize Categories

Buildings & Housing

The buildings area causes about 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions from private households. In particular as the residential space per person is growing increasingly and the population is rising. About one square meter of greenfield is built up every second in Switzerland.

Although efficiency in buildings are is improving thanks to better shells, new building technology and energy-efficient devices, and renewable energies are increasingly being used, energy consumption continues to rise overall. This is, in particular, the case because we are buying ever more household appliances and consumer electronics.

The "Buildings & Housing" category includes the entire value chain from planning of buildings and settlements through to the operation and use of the building. There is significant potential for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at all levels.


The planning phase determines the framework conditions for residential buildings and infrastructure installations. The decisions made at this stage are relevant for greenhouse gas emissions that arise during use. This includes approaches such as concentration in settlements, selection of well-developed locations, specification of the structure, intelligent combination of ecological building materials, ecological building technology and ecological heating systems.

Materials/housing technology:

Unlocking greenhouse gas reduction potential in buildings requires the optimized application of technical solutions and ecological materials. This includes innovative building technologies, plus-energy houses, smart buildings, intelligent infrastructure to optimize energy consumption, materials with better insulating properties and the use of renewable resources.

Construction process:

Optimizations can also be made during the construction process, such as through the use of more ecologically efficient vehicles to transport materials to and from the site.


This includes various approaches that contribute to a reduction of the environmental impact during operation and use. Of particular importance in this regard is the minimization of space consumption (e.g. through residential concepts with joint use), approaches to promote settlement structures and districts with short routes, and the efficient management of building technology.

Savings potential of energy demand in housing

Huge savings potential exists in the end energy consumption for room heat: by 2050, consumption could fall by nearly 45% (Prognos 20111). Upgrading existing buildings places a key part here.

Savings potential of energy demand in housing

1Prognos (2011). Energy Scenarios for Switzerland up to 2050: Initial results of the adapted scenarios I and IV from the Energy Perspectives 2007 – demand, summary of production (interim report I-v5). On behalf of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy SFOE, 9 May 2011, Basel.