Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf

Competition 2014, 1st place. Renovation of the Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape of office-, laboratory building and lecture hall

Energy standard

Minergie-A und -P-ECO

Contract type / Realisation

Competition 2014 / 2015-2016

Building typology

Building complex consisting of office, lecture hall and laboratory buildings


Federal Research Institute WSL established by EMPA Bau 3FI / TD, Dübendorf

Upgrading the building complex

The building complex of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, from the 1950s no longer satisfies current needs. The project aims to optimize working processes and to give the spaces a better flexibility with simple measures. After the reconstruction the building complex will have the energy standard Minergie-P-Eco.

Building envelope
The main administrative building, the lecture hall and the laboratory part will have an envelope that is made of wooden prefabricated elements. These elements are finished with a wooden cladding from the outside. From the inside, the window frames are assembled and joined to form a composite. The insulation thickness is 25 cm, where the windows are provided with a triple insulation glazing and a U-value of approximately 0.9 W/m2K.

Building technology
With the newly optimized building envelope, the engineering services of the building can be very energy efficient. The heating and ventilation systems are equipped with heat recovery. The waste heat from the cooling system is used to heat the hot water. The sanitary facilities use the waste heat of the wastewater.

The roofs are covered with a photovoltaic system of 340 m2, which produces 56’600 kWh/a. The solar power is fed into the electricity network, but can also be used to supply the charging stations for electric vehicles.

Research for people and the environment
The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research is concerned with the use, development and protection of natural and urban spaces.

The focus of our research is on solving problems to do with the responsible use of landscapes and forests and a prudent approach to natural hazards, especially those common in mountainous countries.

WSL occupies a leading position internationally in these research areas. We also provide groundwork for sustainable environmental policies in Switzerland.