Buildings are real energy guzzlers: The approximately 2.3 million properties in Switzerland lay claim to 45 percent of the country's energy consumption and, according to the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), they are responsible for almost a quarter of CO2 emissions. Switzerland's building stock is also outdated: around half of all buildings are more than 40 years old and in need of renovation.
The good news: Buildings – whether farmhouses, multi-family dwellings or commercial buildings – have a great energy-saving potential. That's why those planning a conversion, renovation or modernization project should consider sustainable measures to increase energy efficiency from the outset.
A systematic approach is advisable here:
The first measure concerns windows. Poorly insulated windows let out ten times more warmth than brickwork. Installing window insulation massively reduces heating costs.
Roof, facade, basement
As a second step, you should check the insulation of the building as a whole: Roof insulation can be installed with little effort and is particularly efficient if the room below is uninhabited. The biggest savings potential lies in insulating the exterior facade. The costs are an investment in the future and will be offset by lower heating bills.
Energy-efficient construction: Zurich is on board
The multi-award winning Quai Zurich Campus, Zurich's new headquarters at Mythenquai, Zurich, is one of the world's most sustainable buildings: https://www.zurich.com/en/about-us/offices/quai-zurich
Sustainable heating and electricity generation
A third way of cutting costs is to switch from fossil-powered to renewable heating – either by connecting to a district heating network or by installing a heat pump or solar thermal system. While connecting to district heating is dependent on availability within the region, heat pumps and photovoltaic systems are independent energy sources.
Heat pumps and geothermal probes: The best alternative
Today, heat pumps are standard in new buildings in Switzerland and are considered the most cost-effective and economical alternative to fossil fuels. However, they do require some financial investment, which can present a certain risk. You should protect yourself against this risk as best you can – after all, improving energy efficiency should pay off. Risks and weather damage to and design defects in heat pumps or geothermal probes can be insured. Would you like to know more?
Solar systems: The all-rounder
Solar systems in the form of solar thermal or photovoltaic installations are mandatory in new builds in some cantons. Retrofitting existing properties is fairly straightforward, especially since in addition to roof structures, there are also solutions that can be installed on facades or balconies. While each solar installation is an investment in a sustainable future, it is also a financial investment. Since the systems are exposed to the weather, taking appropriate steps to cover the risks is definitely worthwhile. Our insurance solutions not only cover hail damage or material defects, but also lost feed-in remuneration. Find out more here.
A conversion, renovation or modernization project aimed at improving energy efficiency, also increases the level of comfort for building residents and users, maintains the value of a property and offers tax advantages. The Confederation and cantons have been supporting energy-efficient renovations with funding since 2010.
Before you reach for the hammer
There are a few points you need to consider before sustainably upgrading your own home or company building:
- Make a long-term plan and think about potential future developments.
- Coordinate different measures. Well insulated houses have lower heating requirements.
- Get experts involved early on. The uniform, Switzerland-wide cantonal energy certificate for buildings (GEAK) evaluates the quality of the building envelope, the overall energy balance and direct CO2 emissions.