Mobility research on commuting in the Suurstoffi in Risch-Rotkreuz

How much CO2 do Suurstoffi residents save by commuting from home and coworking? The working residents of Suurstoffi consume an average of around 742 kg of CO2 per year for their commute. This puts them in line with the Swiss average - can we reduce this figure in future?

In the industrial and building sectors, a lot of climate-damaging carbon dioxide (CO2) has been saved in Switzerland in recent years. According to Zug Estates AG’s Sustainability Journal 2023, savings have also been achieved at the Suurstoffi site: for example, the energy for heating and cooling at Suurstoffi is generated by geothermal storage and building heat, and electricity is supplied by solar panels. The transport sector is responsible for a third of Switzerland’s 13 million tons of CO2 emissions every year. Commuting to and from work causes almost four million tons of CO2 emissions. In Switzerland, the average CO2 emissions per employee are around 761 kg per year for commuting to work. The transport sector tends to produce the same amount of CO2 over the years. It is therefore not yet on the hoped-for reduction path and remains a challenge in Switzerland and at Suurstoffi.

As part of the SWEET - ’SWiss Energy research for the Energy Transition’ funding program of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), the Competence Center for Mobility of the Lucerne School of Business, together with other research institutions in the SWICE consortium (Sustainable Wellbeing for the Individual and the Collectivity in the Energy Transition), led by EPFL Lausanne, investigated the average CO2 emissions of Suurstoffi residents for their commute to work. To find out how much CO2 emissions residents currently generate on their commute to work, we conducted a survey at Suurstoffi in fall 2022. The survey was also developed together with the municipality of Risch-Rotkreuz.

To calculate the CO2 emissions of the commute to work, we combined the information on the number of working days at the employer’s premises, the distance of the commute and the means of transport, among other things. This resulted in average CO2 emissions of around 740 kg per person per year for commuting to work. This corresponds approximately to the Swiss average. The results of the survey show that working from home is particularly popular with Suurstoffi residents: around 60% of residents regularly work from home. Popular home office days are Monday and Friday. Other important factors influencing CO2 emissions are the choice of means of transport, the location of the regular workplace (in a rural or urban environment), and the reasons for choosing the place of residence (for example, proximity to public transport or the highway), as well as the attitude towards cars and public transport. For example, people who often work at home, work in a city, commute by public transport and find public transport convenient have lower average CO2 emissions for commuting to work than residents who commute long distances by car. The calculations show this correlation. For example, those who work from home one day more can save an average of 120 kg of CO2 per year for their commute. This is roughly equivalent to the CO2 consumption of a car for a 300 km journey. A resident of the Suurstoffi site who works from home for 50% of the working week therefore consumes a total of around 500 kg of CO2 per year for their commute.

In the project, we now want to investigate the potential of interventions at Suurstoffi to promote sustainable mobility. The results of the survey show that changes in working behavior can make a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions. One measure to reduce CO2 emissions is to work at home in a home office or in a nearby coworking space. These other work locations help to avoid peak traffic times and prevent all employees from using the transport infrastructure at the same time. Another option is for residents to join together to commute by car and form a carpool. Research also shows that it is important to be aware of your own mobility patterns for work and leisure trips. A mobility app in Suurstoffi could create this awareness.