Societies that evolve shape their social and built environment, but also sometimes have an excessive impact on the natural environment. For us, the term ‘environment’ refers to the natural environment, the built environment and the social and cultural environment. This environment is at the heart of the Laboratory of Environmental and Urban Economics’ (LEURE) concerns, because it imposes difficult but unavoidable social choices and because the complex interrelations between its dimensions are a real scientific challenge.


The LEURE team carries out work and research devoted to public and private environmental management. The Laboratory’s objectives are in line with the interdisciplinary and service tradition at the ENAC School. They aim to advance scientific knowledge in the following fields:

  • analysis of the socio-economic mechanisms that govern the evolution of the environment
  • normative reflection on the desirable evolution of the environment, in order to assist decision-making
  • development of scientific methods and regulatory instruments enabling the environment to evolve in a sustainable manner.

To achieve these objectives, LEURE…

  • pursues fundamental and applied disciplinary and interdisciplinary research related to the natural and built environment
  • supports the other laboratories of the ENAC School in their work on the construction and physical evolution of the environment from a methodological and socio-economic point of view
  • contributes to the economic training of EPFL architects, engineers and scientists
  • organizes continued education in the field of real estate expertise
  • participates in commissions and organisations that advance the cause of the environment, in particular the climate

Analyzed concepts


The desirable and effective evolution of the environment mobilizes concepts that are often difficult to grasp. LEURE seeks to clarify these concepts and formalize them so that they can be taken into account in decision-making processes. The concepts analyzed and operationalized by LEURE include :

  • performance
  • risk

Studies in these areas are conducted in parallel with the treatment of issues concerning the evolution and transformation of institutions as regulators and producers of standards and values.

Performance describes the relationship between economic and financial results and objectives pursued by private and public sector actors, always considering the environmental and socio-cultural consequences. To evaluate and improve performance, it is important to define objectives and develop indicators to measure the results obtained, which take into account all the factors contributing to the desirable development of the environment. The analysis of the means necessary to implement successful policies and projects is also a priority for LEURE.

Risk covers economic, financial and political hazards, as well as environmental, social and cultural problems faced by the private sector, public authorities and local authorities. To control, reduce and integrate risks into decision-making processes, it is necessary to identify them, define them and analyse their dynamics, as well as assess their consequences.

Performance and risk are dealt with in direct relation to the evolution of market and political institutions. The analysis of institutional transformation and renewal is therefore also an important component of the Laboratory’s research. For example, the LEURE team is working on the new environmental protection instruments: their choice, implementation, acceptability and budgetary implications. LEURE also works on the analysis and modelling of complex markets, whose imperfections call for adequate regulation.

Fields of application

LEURE focuses on clarifying and operationalizing the concepts of performance and risk in three areas of investigation:

  • the built environment, in particular real estate and housing
  • investments: small and large, traditional and innovative projects that affect the built environment, in particular the construction and rehabilitation of buildings and infrastructure
  • the quality of the natural environment and the protection of resources, in particular climate change policies and environmental management