How Can We Make Residential Neighborhoods More Sustainable by 2050?


If the aim of a 2,000 Watt Society is to be achieved, peri-urban residential neighborhoods – where the average single-family home consumes 6.5 times more power than that target – must adapt.

An EPFL thesis, which has just been awarded a scholarly distinction, explores ways of hitting the target in Vaud canton, but which could also be applied to the whole of Switzerland.

“Switzerland’s Spatial Planning Act states that land should be used more intensively in built-up areas, particularly those already well-served by public transport,” according to the thesis recently completed by Judith Drouilles, who holds a PhD in architecture and works at EPFL’s Laboratory of Architecture and Sustainable Technologies (LAST). “This research shows that peri-urban residential neighborhoods consisting of single-family homes, although they are not a priority in terms of spatial planning, also have a lot of scope for improvement in terms of sustainability.”

To find solutions that are acceptable for owners of single-family homes, Drouilles spoke to local stakeholders and sent questionnaires to people living in residential neighborhoods in the Lausanne region, i.e. Chavornay, Assens, Echichens, Savigny and Jorat-Mézières. “Buying a single-family house in Switzerland is often the culmination of a life-long project or the realization of a dream. That’s why it was important to factor in the aspirations of these kinds of owners, to take into account their various viewpoints,” she explains.

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