Initial energy-saving measures

Dear members of the EPFL community,

As Martin Vetterli mentioned in his new school year message, the Campuses Energy Committee will keep you informed of measures EPFL is taking to cope with the uncertainty arising from the energy crisis. Below you will find a number of developments that will enable our campuses to contribute to the collective effort to reduce electricity consumption, in addition to implementing the Swiss Federal Council’s recently announced measures for public entities, including EPFL.

Measures set out by the Federal Council (in effect until 31 March 2023)

EPFL will put in place the following measures in all buildings in which the power supply is our responsibility:

  • Keeping the temperature at 20°C in all rooms. Please note that the heat was turned on in the School’s buildings last Tuesday, 27 September.
  • Prohibiting the use of space heaters and stand-alone air-conditioning units.
  • Turning off the hot water in the handful of restrooms where it’s still available.

Reducing the lighting inside and outside buildings as much as possible, without compromising on the safety of people on our campuses.

EPFL is responsible for the following buildings: all buildings on the Ecublens campus (apart from Cubotron, Batochime, Extranef and Jordils) and the building on our Neuchâtel site. The other buildings fall within the scope of responsibility of UNIL, the Fondation Campus Biotech, or Fribourg or Valais cantons.

Measures recommended by the Federal Council

The Federal Council suggests replacing non-essential travel and off-campus trips with video conferences.

The Federal Council is also asking that we look at which activities could be interrupted, even partially, between Christmas and New Year’s. The Campuses Energy Committee will review possible options, also in order to test the impact of various scenarios in the event the Swiss government imposes power cuts under the OSTRAL plan. We’ll let you know soon what options EPFL selects and the approach to implementing them.

Measures undertaken by EPFL

Reducing the voltage in the campus power grid

EPFL’s power grid is fed by two medium/high-voltage substations. According to a preliminary study by the School’s Distributed Electrical Systems Laboratory, power consumption on our Lausanne campus could be reduced by some 5%, if not more, by lowering from 21kV to 20kV the secondary voltage of the transformers in these substations. That would reduce the voltage in the low-voltage grid by around 10V. The voltage would be lowered progressively alongside ongoing analyses, as this would allow us to monitor the impact of this change thanks, in part, to a system of sensors recently installed on the campus’s medium-voltage grid. This solution is currently being evaluated, in order to measure the effect of this reduction. The labs will be updated in a timely manner through their facilities managers.

Ventilation in the lecture halls and other public spaces

Please be aware that the energy-saving measures will not affect the operation of our ventilation system, including in the lecture halls, and we will control air quality by monitoring CO2 levels. This is important, with the onset of flu season and the COVID-19 uncertainty. We will also take steps to optimize the ventilation and heating systems.

EPFL logo and illuminated advertising signs on campus

The EPFL logos on the Odyssea tower and in Place Cosandey, along with all illuminated advertising signs under our responsibility, will be turned off.

Lowering the temperature at night and on weekends

Tests are currently being run in order to find the optimal temperatures for the campus buildings.

Christmas break

In light of the current situation, we have decided to forego all electric Christmas decorations; these decorations will not be allowed on our campuses this year. But we look forward to hearing other ideas you may have on how to maintain the holiday spirit.

Every effort counts. Turn off unused equipment, don’t leave it in standby mode whenever possible, don’t print when you don’t need to, and take the steps instead of the elevator. On a campus of 17,000 people, the sum of these efforts may – we strongly hope – prevent us from having to ration electricity (where the power supply is reduced from normal levels) or face power cuts (where the power supply is halted for several hours) this winter.

More information on the energy crisis is available on this Swiss government website.

The website is currently under construction. Useful information for our community will be published there over time.

Please send any questions to We will do our best to reply quickly.

Let’s focus our energy on consuming less of it!

Matthias Gäumann & Jan S. Hesthaven
           Co-chairmen of the committee