ENAC news about research

Articles about research

Treelines are rising as a result of global warming.© Istock/semak

How rising treelines can affect Alpine lakes

— An EPFL scientist along with colleagues from universities across Europe have completed the first-ever quantitative study of the changes that soil organic matter from forests can cause in high-altitude and high-latitude lakes once it’s dissolved in the water

Photo caption and credit are indicated in the text below © City of Lausanne digitization workshop.

On the trail of pollution in Lausanne

— A team of researchers from EPFL, UNIL, and Unisanté have published a report that goes through the legacy of pollution from a trash incinerator that burned in the Lausanne Vallon neighborhood from 1958 to 2005. On March 27, they presented their research to the residents of the Vallon neighborhood.

Janody Pougala,transportation engineer.© 2024 EPFL/Alain Herzog - CC-BY-SA 4.0

New model better predicts our daily travel choices

— An EPFL engineer has developed a forecasting model that factors in not just our commuting habits, but also our activities during the day. Her flexible approach incorporates the idea of trade-offs in order to deliver more realistic predictions.

Students from EPFL’s rebuiLT project have recovered components from a 1970s building scheduled to be demolished. © 2023 rebuiLT/PJ Renaud CC-BY-SA 4.0

Making construction sustainable by reusing materials

— One way to lighten the construction industry’s heavy carbon footprint is to reuse existing materials – an approach being explored by numerous researchers. Here’s a look at some of their ideas, ahead of an upcoming speaker event at EPFL.

The cameras are placed on a structure that allows data to be taken from a wide range of corals. © LWimages

AI-powered system maps corals in 3D in record time

— An artificial intelligence system developed at EPFL can produce 3D maps of coral reefs from camera footage in just a few minutes. It marks a major leap forward in deep-sea exploration and conservation capabilities for organizations like the Transnational Red Sea Center (TRSC).

Alexandre Fourrier and Giovanni De Cesare are taking measurements in the Chamberonne delta on the shores of Lake Geneva.© 2024 EPFL/Alain Herzog - CC-BY-SA 4.0

Engineers facilitate the restoration of lake deltas

— Engineers from EPFL and partner organizations have developed a method for classifying lacustrine deltas based on morphological parameters, in order to determine which of the deltas severely altered by human activity are best suited for restoration to their natural state.

A glacier in Ecuador studied by the "Vanishing Glaciers" project. © EPFL/Vincent de Stark

Glacier shrinkage is causing a “green transition”

— Glacier-fed streams are undergoing a process of profound change, according to EPFL scientists in a paper appearing in Nature Geoscience. This conclusion is based on the expeditions to the world’s major mountain ranges by members of the Vanishing Glaciers project.

Once installed, defect-free turbines can operate for around 20 years. © iStock EPFL

AI-driven method helps improve quality assurance for wind turbines

— An international collaboration between EPFL and the University of Glasgow has led to an advanced machine-learning algorithm to effectively detect concealed manufacturing defects in wind turbine composite blades – before turbines are put into service.

© 2023 Solstis - CC-BY-SA 4.0

Energy Strategy 2050: the potential of millions of Swiss rooftops

— Five million rooftops in Switzerland – more than half of the nationwide total – are suitable for generating power. A review of two solar photovoltaic development strategies has shown that combining the two approaches could cause over two-thirds of Swiss towns and cities to become energy self-sufficient.

Fieldwork mission to Union Glacier, Antarctica 2022, in collaboration with antarcitca.cl (Universidad de Santiago Chile, USACH). © José Jorquera

Mapping the blue ice in Antarctica from the sky

— Antarctica’s blue ice is a gold mine of information for scientists. Yet it’s scattered across areas making up just 1% of the continent’s surface – so it’s not easy to find. But now, researchers have generated a map of blue ice areas by combining artificial intelligence with satellite data. [Article published in EPFL magazine Dimensions]

Gabriele Manoli: "Urban heat islands aren’t just about people feeling too hot". © iStock

Urban heat islands have a health cost

— A new study has produced the first cost estimate of the impact that urban heat islands have on human health. The study looked at 85 European cities over the course of three full years, meaning it also took into account the protection that heat islands offer in winter – an aspect that has been little studied until now.

EPFL scientists have developed METEOR – a chameleon application that can train algorithms to recognize new objects after being shown just a handful of images © iStock

Chameleon AI program classifies objects in satellite images faster

— An AI program can train neural networks, using just a handful of images, to rapidly characterize in satellite and drone data new objects like ocean debris, deforestation zones, urban areas and more.

Different types of green electricity.© Istock

Three strategies to boost green electricity in Switzerland

— Switzerland’s ambitious green electricity targets are realistic. A study by the SWEET EDGE consortium, bringing together scientists from EPFL-ENAC, ETH Zurich and the universities of Geneva and Bern, shows that three distinct strategies would make it possible to cover electricity needs and lead to the employment of several thousands of people in the sector of new renewable energy.

Permafrost covers 22% of the Earth’s land surface. © iStock

Permafrost: a ticking time bomb beneath our feet

— Nearly a quarter of the Earth’s land surface is permanently frozen. These areas, known as permafrost, are found in northern polar regions and at high altitudes. But the permafrost is now starting to thaw – with potentially disastrous consequences for the climate. Here, we look at what scientists currently know about this potential threat.

Joanne Nussbaum, on the left, Paola Viganò, center, Ben Gitai, on the right. © 2023 EPFL / Alain Herzog

New landscape atlas helps us envision Paris in the future

— EPFL’s Habitat Research Center has created the first atlas of Paris landscapes, after winning a request for proposals by the French government and the City of Paris. The atlas is the result of a highly innovative approach to urban research, as it includes not just maps but also testimonials from local residents.

Kyrgizstan, Arabel Plateau © Vincent de Staercke - EPFL

Vanishing worlds: Exploring our planet's icy ecosystems

— Long considered devoid of life, glaciers – and the microorganisms they harbor – are receiving the recognition they deserve. [Article published in EPFL magazine Dimensions]

Au mois de septembre, où la banquise arctique atteint son minimum, elle était à son cinquième niveau le plus bas jamais enregistré, décrit Julia Schmale © iStock

Polar ice holds the key to our future on Earth

— The world’s ice shelves, glaciers and ice caps are melting at an alarming rate. The extent of polar sea ice in both the Arctic and the Antarctic is unusually low this year. Protecting the cryosphere is essential to life on Earth – which is why scientists are pulling out all the stops to understand the complex dynamics. [Article published in EPFL magazine Dimensions]

© Laurence Piaget-Dubuis

“Valais is an ideal laboratory to study climate change impacts”

— Exploring the climate crisis with Jérôme Chappellaz, environmental scientist and academic director of ALPOLE at EPFL. [Article published in EPFL magazine Dimensions]

Salvatore Aprea, between archives and projection of wall prototypes. © 2023 EPFL / A. Herzog

Experts revive ancient techniques to make concrete more sustainable

— A team of experts from EPFL, ETH Zurich and a Geneva-based architecture firm has developed a new type of non-reinforced concrete made from stone offcuts. Their method, which reduces the use of carbon-intensive cement-based binders, draws on ancient techniques uncovered in historical archives.

Aerial view of the experimental site in Siberia.© EPFL/Yugra State University, Khanty-Mansiysk

Scientists explore hidden dynamics in peat under mosses and shrubs

— Global warming is causing extensive changes to peatland vegetation in Europe and Western Siberia, with consequences for soil composition and the peatlands’ ability to sequester carbon. An EPFL-led study has examined the mechanisms behind these complex processes.

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Tiago P. Borges is architect and PhD student at EPFL. © 2024 EPFL / Alain Herzog

Reimagining dwelling

— It's possible to live in less conventional places, such as greenhouses, says Tiago P. Borges, architect and PhD student at EPFL’s Laboratory of Elementary Architecture and Studies of Types (EAST) in this column published in three local dailies.

Giuseppe Galbiati is an engineer-architect and former PhD student at EPFL. © 2024 EPFL / Alain Herzog

“Modern” does not mean “monster”

— Modern architectural buildings represent a rich repository of grey energy to be conserved, even if they are not always attractive, explains Giuseppe Galbiati, engineer-architect and former PhD student at EPFL’s Laboratory of Techniques and Preservation of Modern Architecture (TSAM), in this column.

Anjy Fröhlich and Lara Monti in front of a dismanteled filling stations. © Alain Herzog / 2024 EPFL

What does the future hold for filling stations?

— Filling stations will have to find a new purpose in a post-fossil-fuel world. That's what Anja Fröhlich, architect and associate professor, and Lara Monti, teaching assistant at EPFL's Laboratory of Elementary Architecture and Studies of Types, are talking about in this column.

Lucía Jalón Oyarzun and Emmanuelle Agustoni (ALICE). © EPFL/DR - Y.Bergeot - CC-BY-SA 4.0

Tapping into “urban intelligence”

— In this article appearing in Switzerland’s French-speaking press, Lucía Jalón Oyarzun, head of research at the Design Studio on the Conception of Space (ALICE) and Emmanuelle Agustoni, architect and scientist, explain how they built a picture of the living heritage of Vernier, a town on the western outskirts of Geneva

Glòria Serra Coch is architect and researcher at EPFL. © Alain Herzog / 2023 EPFL

Energy is (not) sexy

— In this article appearing in three local newspapers, Glòria Serra Coch, architect and PhD student at EPFL’s Human Environment Relations in Urban Systems (HERUS), wonders how to make the energy turn around more attractive.

Dimitrios Lignos is the Director of the Civil Engineering Institute at EPFL. © EPFL/Alain Herzog

How can we use steel efficiently for sustainable design?

— In this column, published in three regional dailies, Dimitrios Lignos, who heads EPFL’s Resilient Steel Structures Laboratory (RESSLab), explains how his laboratory's research is contributing to a more thoughtful use of steel in construction.

Emmanuel Rey is Associate professor of Architecture and Sustainable Construction Technologies. © Tonatiuh Ambrosetti

Toward post-carbon neighborhoods?

— In this column, published in three local dailies, Emmanuel Rey, Associate professor of Architecture and Sustainable Construction Technologies and head of the Laboratory of Architecture and Sustainable Technologies (LAST), explains what lies behind the concept of "post-carbon neighborhoods".

Andrew Sonta is Tenure track assistant professor at the Smart Living Lab in Fribourg.© 2023 EPFL

Why flexible working has the power to change our cities

— In this column, published in three local dailies, Andrew Sonta, engineer and Tenure track assistant professor at the Smart Living Lab explains how evolving patterns of behavior have called into question the value of the physical office space and add an additional layer of complexity to optimal building design and operation.

Giulia Marino is architect and researcher at EPFL. © DR

What can the Avanchet-Parc housing complex teach us today?

— In this column, published in three regional dailies, researcher and architect Giulia Marino discusses how the Avanchet-Parc housing complex near Geneva can inspire future ecodistricts

Camille Fauvel is lecturer at EPFL. © Alain Herzog / EPFL 2023

Temporary structures can help find lasting solutions

— In this column, published in three local dailies, Camille Fauvel explains how temporary structures can help us observe how people use public spaces. Fauvel, a lecturer in architecture at ENAC, cites a project carried out by EPFL students on Lake Geneva.

Mathias Lerch is researcher at EPFL. © A. Herzog/EPFL

Will urban sprawl in Switzerland ever end?

— Public policies aimed at curbing urban sprawl have limited effects, says Mathias Lerch in this column. The ENAC researcher cites a study conducted by his laboratory on peri-urbanization in Switzerland since the 1960s.

Anna Karla de Almeida Santos. © Alain Herzog / EPFL

Industrial heritage: a driver of the socioecological transition

— In this article appearing in Switzerland’s French-speaking press, Anna Karla de Almeida Santos, a PhD candidate at the Laboratory of Urbanism (Lab-U), explains that the transformation of sites with an industrial past represents an opportunity to test research avenues and materialize the socio-ecological transition.

Margaux Peltier is an EPFL civil engineer. © Martin Ruetsche

Tapping into the energy stored beneath our cities

— In this article appearing in Switzerland’s French-speaking press, Margaux Peltier, the CEO of Enerdrape and a research assistant at EPFL’s Laboratory of Soil Mechanics, explains how recent technology developed at EPFL can help bring geothermal energy into existing buildings.

Jerôme Chenal is Head of the Urban and Regional Planning Community. © Alain Herzog / EPFL

Made in the shade

— In this article appearing in Switzerland’s French-speaking press, Jérôme Chenal, the head of EPFL’s Urban and Regional Planning Community (CEAT), gives suggestions for how city planners can adapt their cities to make them more resilient to climate change.

Valentin Bourdon et Paola Viganò collaborent au Centre Habitat de l'EPFL. © Alain Herzog / EPFL

Understanding our existing heritage

— In this article appearing in a local newspapers, Paola Viganò, head of EPFL’s Habitat Research Center, and Valentin Bourdon, its coordinator, highlight why it’s so important to understand past architects’ intentions when adapting heritage buildings to modern contexts.

Sergi Aguacil with a view of the future Smart Living Lab's building. © T.Delley/behnischarchitekten

Local energy solutions help tackle global challenges

— In this article originally appearing in French, Sergi Aguacil, an architect and head of the Building2050 Group at EPFL’s School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC), discusses the research he’s doing at the Smart Living Lab in Fribourg to develop distributed power generation and seasonal storage systems for buildings.

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Internal news

© 2023 EPFL

ENAC Fribourg Grants: apply now!

— We have the pleasure to launch an internal call: “ENAC Fribourg Grants”, offering a new opportunity to boost interdisciplinary research and innovative approaches for a sustainable development of the built environment. The call is open to all EPFL laboratories.

Freilager neighborhood, Zurich (arch. Rolf Mühlethaler) © gataric-fotografie

Forum des transitions urbaines 2023

— Entitled "Towards Post-Carbon Neighborhoods", the Forum des transitions urbaines will be held on September 8, 2023 in the Auditorium of Microcity, a branch of the EPFL in Neuchâtel (Switzerland). Organized jointly by the Ecoparc Association and the Laboratory of Architecture and Sustainable Technologies (LAST) of the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in partnership with the journal Tracés, the biennial event will approach this crucial theme for our built environment from different angles.

© 2023 EPFL

Three "ENAC Flagship projects" granted

— We're happy to announce the 3 successful ENAC Flagship projects, involving 7 ENAC Professors coming from different research disciplines. The Flagships will receive between 400 and 500 kCHF each and will be running until spring 2026!

© 2022 EPFL

Five new ENAC Interdisciplinary Cluster Grant projects

— ENAC's 3rd call for Interdisciplinary Cluster Grants resulted in 5 new projects, across ENAC's Institutes, addressing novel interdisciplinary research questions linked to climate change, digitalization and urbanzation.

© 2022 EPFL

ENAC Flagship projects: apply now!

— We have the pleasure to open a new internal call: “ENAC Flagship projects”, which is a unique opportunity to boost interdisciplinary and ground-breaking research.

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