Project name   Forum Chriesbach, Dübendorf, Switzerland

Keywords   Research object, ventilation system, architecture, passive house, building integration 

Start of project   2006

End of project   in operation

Contact person or organization   EMPA & EAWAG Dübendorf, Switzerland

Short project description / project function   Forum Chriesbach was built as an administration and research centre for the two research institutes EAWAG (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology) and EMPA (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology). It was designated to test the technical and architectural limits of sustainable building. The construction incorporates facilities for efficient water management, nutrients recovery, renewable energy generation, passive energy utilisation and is built of sustainable materials. The building itself serves continuously as a research object for the research institutes. Furthermore, there are offices for 150 people, a reception, an exhibition area, seminar rooms in different sizes, a library and a restaurant for employees.  

Water   The efficient use of water was one of the main aims in the construction process. Waterless urinals and NoMix toilets ensure minimum water use and the separation of urine from wastewater with solids. Moreover, rainwater is collected from the green roof system and clarified in a pond next to the building. The pond functions as a triple-chamber biological treatment plant. The treated water is used for toilet flushing. When the pond overflows, the water settles in sumps and infiltrates into the soil.  

Energy   Forum Chriesbach is constructed as a low-energy passive building. The building is highly insulated and has no conventional heating or cooling system. The restaurant is the only heated space in the building. The energy for heating and hot water is gained from waste heat from the commercial cooling system and from the vacuum tube collectors on the rooftop. To maintain a comfortable indoor climate, the building has a well-conceived ventilation system. Outside air flows through the three stations «thermal register - heat recovery server - Monobloc» before it is distributed in the building. In addition, further passive elements such as the louver system reduce energy demand to a minimum. Also electricity demand is kept to a minimum by choosing efficient devices and harnessing daylight. One third of the electricity demand is covered by solar electricity generated by a photovoltaic system on the roof's edge. All in all, the building consumes the amount of energy used by a normal single-family house, although it is forty times lager. It complies with the visionary Swiss standard of the 2000-watt society for the year 2050. 

Biomass   Men's and women's urine is collected separately by NoMix toilets and waterless urinals. A range of waterless urinals is installed throughout the building for testing and further development. The urine is collected in the basement of the building where there is currently a pilot plant installed with the aim to produce a fertiliser product. Firstly, the urine is nitrified in a nitrification column and secondly evaporated to increase nutrient concentration. The end product contains both nitrogen and phosphor. 

Project benefits   Forum Chriesbach incorporates significant advanced technologies and a number of innovations. The architecture allows a synergy of systems that are inseparably integrated and serve multiple functions. The project has won many prices for its architecture and specific technical innovations. 

Project level   Pilot project

Financial scale   Construction costs: 29.5 million

Environmental conditions   Climate zone: temperate; Climate type: moderate continental; Latitude: 47.21° N; Longitude: 7.56° E

Altitude   436 meters above sea level

Description of special local conditions   Dübendorf is located in the Glatt Valley, which is a valley in the Swiss Plateau. It is bisected by the Glatt River and is situated on the northern side of the Adlisberg, a small mountain (700 meters height). 

Context Zero Emission Buildings   Forum Chriesbach was designed with the leading thought of a research object. Thus many findings can be drawn and implemented in future Zero Emission Buildings. In particular, Forum Chriesbach is one of the very few buildings that implement technologies to recover nutrients from urine. Moreover, the deployed technologies demonstrate a high level of building integration and multifunctionality. Forum Chriesbach is one of the few case studies in Switzerland that tackle all three aspects (Energy, Water and Biomass) of the Zero Emission Concept.

Sources   EAWAG (2011). Abgerufen am 5. Juli 2013 von Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction (2007). Eawag Forum Chriesbach – Research center in Switzerland. Zürich: Stäubli Verlag AG. Abgerufen am 5. Juli 2013 von Bob Gysin + Partner BGP (2006). Baumonographie Eawag Forum Chriesbach. Abgerufen am 5. Juli 2013 von

Sources   Bild: EAWAG(2011). Abgerufen am 5.Juli 2013 von
Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction (2007). Eawag Forum Chriesbach – Research center in Switzerland. Zürich: Stäubli Verlag AG. Abgerufen am 5. Juli 2013 von
Bob Gysin + Partner BGP (2006). Baumonographie Eawag Forum Chriesbach. Abgerufen am 5. Juli 2013 von

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