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UZH as a real-world laboratory

UZH makes itself available to its researchers, staff and students as a real-world laboratory to develop and test innovative measures for sustainable operation in transdisciplinary teams.

If you would like advice on the topic of real-world laboratories or have an existing project that is not on this page, please write to us at

Call for real-world laboratories 2023

UZH researchers together with technical or administrative staff could apply for project funding until June 30, 2023. The consortium had to include at least one person from each of the two groups. Students (e. g., in the context of final theses) and external cooperation collaborators could also be included. Five projects were selected for real-world laboratory funding. 
to the UZH-News article

The project information given below will be continuously updated. We will also inform about important events via ournewsletter.

Red plane flies over light green earth, emits gray clouds of emissions, plane is refueled from the right with a hose

Successful trajectories for reducing flight-related greenhouse gas emissions at UZH (RED-UZH)

Project team: Thomas Widmer, Marian Bohl, Oliver Strijbis
Duration: 2 years
Funding amount: 100,000 CHF
Units involved: UZH Department of Political Science, Deanery of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Franklin University Switzerland
Contact: thow(at)

The UZH faculties have taken a variety of measures to reduce flight-related greenhouse gas emissions. RED-UZH aims to evaluate these various measures. Different dimensions are assessed, such as the level of information on the measures, their acceptance, and their effects on the travel behavior and climate awareness of UZH members. Guided interviews, the analysis of existing data and a standardized online survey are the methods. Based on the findings, the project formulates recommendations for the attention of decision-makers and can thus contribute to the foundations for achieving UZH's climate neutrality goals. The project is also a model for other educational institutions and organizations that pursue similar emission reduction goals and contributes to the scientific debate about the acceptance and effectiveness of corresponding measures.

Greening up UZH for climate (Green4Clim)

Project team: Eugenie Paul-Limoges, Maria J. Santos, Felix Morsdorf, Alain Schneuwly
Duration: 1 year
Funding amount: 100,000 CHF
Units involved: UZH Department of Geography, UZH Betriebsdienst Irchel, Eidg. Forschungsanstalt für Wald, Schnee und Landschaft (WSL)
Contact: maria.j.santos(at)

Green4Clim uses the UZH Irchel campus as a real-world laboratory to investigate how vegetation composition and distribution may mitigate carbon impacts of campus activities. The project focuses on direct and indirect effects of vegetation management on CO2 sequestration through photosynthesis (direct) and on the energy consumption of buildings through shading and cooling effects (indirect). With a combination of leaf, soil and airborne drone measurements the current CO2 sources and sinks as well as temperature hot spots of all natural areas on Irchel Campus are quantified. Experiments will identify the locations, plant species and communities particularly suitable for binding CO2 and reducing temperatures. Green4Clim results will help design a management strategy for carbon mitigation that can also be transferred to urban areas to achieve climate and biodiversity goals. With Green4Clim, UZH will be at the forefront of real-world lab initiatives on how to use campus vegetation to reduce CO2 emissions.

Environmental sustainability in computed tomography

Project team: Tilo Niemann, Rahel Kubik-Huch, Bastian Schulz, Michael Thali, M. Cristelon, Jesus Fernandez-León, Doreen Kraft
Duration: 6 Months
Funding amount: 10,000 CHF
Units involved: UZH Institute of Forensic Medicine, Kantonsspital Baden, Elektro Hitz, Siemens Healthineers
Publications: Paper in "Academic Radiology"; Final Report (PDF, 341 KB)
Contatc: tilo.nieman(at)

Computed tomography (CT) scanners are essential medical devices, but they also consume a lot of energy. Two subprojects investigated how to optimize the energy consumption of CT scanners, especially during times of low utilization. A phantom study by subproject 1 determined whether the power consumption of a CT scan can be predicted based on the selected scan parameters. An observation study by subproject 2 assessed the power consumption for different scenarios, such as idle time, system shutdown, system start, emergency stop, and standby. For extrapolation and interpretation of the measurements, the project cooperated with employees of the UZH Real Estate and Operations Directorate.
The study is an important step in optimizing the energy consumption of CT scanners during idle times and thus contributing to environmental protection. By optimizing energy consumption, hospitals can protect the environment and save money. The results could serve as a baseline for further optimization, such as calculating AI-based shut-down automation in CT scanners. 

Overhead view of trash can contents, piles of used plastic laboratory equipment such as pipette tips

Reusing Plastic Disposables: Automated Pipette Tip Washing (TipWash)

Project team: Hanspeter Schöb, Célia Baroux, Barbara Keller, Valeria Gagliardini, Marina Stirnemann, Lena Stransfeld
Duration: 6 Months
Funding amount: 10,000 CHF
Units involved: UZH Department of Plant and Microbial Biology (IPMB),UZH Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany (ISEB)
Contact: sustainability(at)

The TipWash project is led by the Sustainability Committee of IPMB and ISEB. It aims to establish automated washing of single-use plastic items in Switzerland using the Grenova TipNovus© device. This device is the first of its kind in Switzerland. TipWash examines sustainability aspects, legal issues, workflows and the biosafety of automated pipette tip washing in ongoing research operations. The findings made constitute the basis for widespread reuse of single-use plastic in Swiss laboratory research. A real-world laboratory project in this area is highly relevant because tens to hundreds of kilograms of single-use plastic items per researcher are disposed of every year after a single use, even though these items could potentially be reused up to twenty times. By using resources responsibly, TipWash contributes to UZH's climate neutrality goals.

Blue plane flies over light green earth, emits gray clouds of emissions, plane is refueled from the right with a hose

Anticipation and Warning of Air Travel Emissions at UZH (AWAIR)

Project team: Marian Bohl, Lucas Leeman, Oliver Strjibis
Duration: 6 Months
Funding amount: 7,500 CHF
Units involved: UZH Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Franklin University Switzerland
Contact: ostrijbis(at)

AWAIR analyses whether prediction polls can accurately anticipate CO2e emissions caused by air travel across different faculties and institutes. Therefore, a large number of UZH employees will be asked about their expectations regarding future operational CO2e emissions.
If prediction polls prove to be a precise prediction tool for flight-induced CO2e emissions, early warning systems and better planning for organizational units can be derived from them. In addition, by surveying expectations, AWAIR can raise awareness of UZH's reduction goal.

Further real-world laboratories at UZH

Anti-Littering Irchelpark

The "Anti-Littering Irchelpark Initiative" deals with the sustainable use and management of the Irchelpark. Employees from the Irchel Campus Usage Management, Social Psychology, Irchel Operations Services, the Scientific Visualisation and Visual Communication Team and the Communications Department of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences investigate the causes of littering in the Irchelpark. An evidence-based, continuous improvement process has already been initiated through awareness-raising campaigns.
more information about the real-world laboratory project