Energy and climate

Goal by 2030

BFH aims to be climate neutral by 2030.

Why this topic is relevant for BFH

Thanks to its wide-ranging expertise in various research areas, BFH is ideally positioned to reduce its energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. It also has the opportunity to influence future operations and resource consumption directly of the new campus projects in Biel/Bienne and Bern which will be certified with at least SNBS Gold.

Man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the main cause of climate change. These global emissions endanger the livelihood of humanity and other living creatures. In its activities, BFH also consumes energy and food, uses various resources and causes greenhouse gas emissions.

With a centrally coordinated, consistent implementation of climate protection measures in the coming years and the achievement of climate neutrality, BFH can make its contribution to the goals of the Paris Agreement and Switzerland. Necessary emission reductions can be achieved in particular through the replacement of fossil fuels, energy efficiency, mobility behaviour and sustainable nutrition.

Climate-neutral university by 2030

In the year under review, BFH updated its strategy and tightened its target by aiming for climate neutrality as early as 2030. Already in 2019, the BFH committed to emitting net zero greenhouse gases by 2040 at the latest by signing the Climate Emergency Letter (now Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges).

First measure from the mobility concept implemented: guideline for long-distance and air travel

The BFH mobility concept drawn up in 2020 lists 18 measures with which BFH can achieve mobility with less resource consumption and fewer harmful emissions. A first measure was implemented with the adoption of the Long Distance and Air Travel Policy in 2021. In this, the survey and offsetting of air travel as well as the avoidance of short-haul flights and student excursions by plane were decided. The mobility survey, another measure, had to be postponed several times because such a survey would not have yielded meaningful results in the exceptional situation of the Covid-19 pandemic.

First energy and greenhouse gas inventory

For the first time, an inventory of BFH's energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions was drawn up. In 2021, BFH consumed around 110 TJ of energy and emitted around 4450 t of CO2 equivalents. These figures provide an initial indication of the status quo but are subject to relatively large uncertainties. The informative value is limited due to the incomplete data situation.


Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the non-recorded commuter routes, the mobility figures are relatively low and not representative for a normal year. The dominance of heat generation, especially in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, can be attributed to the heavy use of fossil fuels in heat production in addition to low mobility.

Renewable energy sources are only partially used in heat production. While BFH-W at Brückenstrasse 73 relies on district heating, BFH-HAFL relies in Zollikofen on wood chips and BFH-AHB in Biel also relies on wood chips for 50% of its heating, all other cantonal buildings are heated with oil or gas. The energy source is not known for the rented locations.

The inventory covers the entire BFH, i.e. the seven departments as well as the President’s Office and Services. It includes the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions caused by the operation of the buildings (heat and electricity) and mobility (business trips without commuting). Catering and procurement have not yet been taken into account in this first inventory. Further information on the survey, on calculation and interpretation can be found in this German document.

How BFH addresses this topic

The ultimate responsibility for energy and emissions in operations lies with the BFH management. Yet, since the buildings of the BFH are owned and managed by the Canton of Berne or third parties, the room for manoeuvre for appropriate measures is relatively limited. However, awareness of this issue is also present at the departmental level and has been specifically addressed for some time at BFH-HAFL in particular.

BFH-HAFL already drew up a greenhouse gas inventory and climate strategy in 2017/18 and adopted its own guidelines for long-distance and air travel in 2020. In other departments, the canteens and services are active, for example by focusing on organic and seasonal cuisine, offering a meat menu only once a week or banning plastic dishes.

Despite the positive development in recent years, BFH has hardly implemented any centrally coordinated measures to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in a targeted manner. However, BFH's room for manoeuvre is limited both in terms of the commuting routes of staff and students and in terms of the buildings that are managed or rented by the Canton of Bern. For its part, the canton has committed to making all new buildings and conversions meet the Minergie-P-Eco standard.

BFH is still at the beginning of its journey towards climate neutrality. The first steps planned for 2022/23 are an accounting concept for the inventory and a ‘climate-neutral university’ roadmap. The concept aims at a completer and more meaningful greenhouse gas inventory, which can be drawn up annually in the future. In the roadmap, BFH will define the necessary measures that it can implement to achieve its goals.

Furthermore, an initial mobility survey of staff and students is planned, which will be repeated at regular intervals. This will provide the basis for targeted measures in the area of mobility and allow progress to be assessed.

The revision of the procurement strategy, designed to be more sustainable and user-friendly, will also play its part in reducing energy and resource consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

A meaningful greenhouse gas inventory is a necessary prerequisite for planning the measures to achieve the set goals and for demonstrating their effectiveness. In the preparation of the greenhouse gas inventory for the BFH, it became apparent that the data basis is deficient and often not centrally available. A lack of liabilities makes it difficult to collect the necessary data.