Three sustainability challenges

An integrative approach to tackling major sustainability challenges


In Switzerland and beyond, issues such as infrastructure upkeep and renewal, rapid urbanization, energy-intensive lifestyles and the threat of ecosystem collapse require holistic responses.

ENAC takes an integrative approach to major global challenges such as climate change, digitalization and rapid urbanization while also considering economic, technical and social demands.

With joint expertise in architecture, civil engineering, and environmental sciences and engineering, ENAC has a unique capability – and indeed a responsibility – to come up with visions and solutions to ensure that the built and natural environments are developed sustainably.

Focus on 3 sustainable subjects

1. Climate change:

Who will be affected by climate change, and how can we act on this issue? We develop knowledge, technologies and tools to anticipate, mitigate and adapt to climate change. We aim to understand the impact of climate change on polar environments and on public health in cities, and to innovate in the areas of CO2 sequestration and the development and deployment of renewable energy.

To meet this challenge, ENAC has set up the new Alpine and Polar Environmental Research Center (ALPOLE) and co-founded the CLIMACT Center. ENAC also collaborates with the Energy Center (CEN).

2. Digitalization of infrastructures and cities:

How can digital tools support the transition towards more sustainable natural and built environments? At ENAC, we harness digital technologies for sustainable design, construction and monitoring. Novel sensor technologies coupled with remote sensing, AI and machine learning provide new ways for managing urban systems and monitoring environmental conditions.

To meet this challenge, ENAC has set up the Digitalization of Infrastructures and Cities Cluster and collaborates with the Center for Intelligent Systems (CIS), the Smart Living Lab, the EPFL Center for Imaging and the Transportation Center (TRACE)

3. Sustainable territories:

How should urban and rural areas be designed to provide residents with adequate livable conditions while preserving the surrounding ecosystems? ENAC researchers rethink the relationship between urban and rural ecosystems through a people-centric system-of-systems approach, with a particular focus on the food-water-energy nexus.

To meet this challenge, ENAC has set up the Sustainable Territories Cluster and collaborates with the Habitat Research Center (HRC) and the Smart Living Lab.

An inter- and transdisciplinary approach

Global sustainability challenges go beyond any single discipline and demand interand transdisciplinary research. At ENAC, we create solutions by leveraging our excellence in architecture, civil engineering, and environmental sciences and engineering. ENAC works at the intersection of the core disciplines of the built and natural environments and creates the knowledge and skills needed by tomorrow’s architects and engineers.

Interdisciplinarity in research:

Clusters ENAC

ENAC clusters in the fields of digitalization and urbanization bring together cutting-edge research excellence from across the three disciplines.


ENAC researchers stand out by their involvement in several research centers and their multidisciplinary approach as a fertile ground for innovation.

tronc d'arbre FUSTIC

FUSTIC is a network of ENAC researchers and other research organizations as well as private and public partners.

Interdisciplinarity on the teaching side:

Throughout their degree programs, our students team up with peers from other disciplines to carry out hands-on design projects, including as part of the “Design Together” program.

The ENAC Faculty hosts several interdisciplinary minors.

The Student Kreativity and Innovation Lab (SKIL) supports projects by student groups or individual students who wish to develop their own ideas and need a practical learning space to do so. SKIL provides the environment and equipment that students need to complete hands-on projects.

Interdisciplinary tools:

Visualize affinities between ENAC research labs.

Interdisciplinary research is one of our school’s core values. This tool lets you visualize potential and effective affinities among our research, groups, laboratories and individual researchers within the labs.