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08 June 2023


Center for Energy and the Environment

Center for Energy and the Environment

Name of the research center:

Center for Energy and the Environment

Research Center contact:

Prof. Regina Betz

How many sustainability-focused researchers are part of the center (#)?

5 - 10

Implementation of SDG-focused research centers

The School of Management & Law (SML) is the largest of 8 schools of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences founded in 1968 and based in Winterthur, Switzerland. It has approximately 9,500 students in degree and continuous education programmes. SML has been an active signatory of PRME since 2014.

The six PRME principles are an essential orientation for the SML to implement responsible management education while the focus on the SDGs serves the implementation of the university’s sustainability strategy directed to all 8 schools including SML. The principles support the school in establishing and advancing responsibility, ethics, and sustainability as fundamental values in governance, teaching and research, ad operation. In our mission statement, we commit ourselves to practicing and promoting sustainable development and corporate responsibility. Implementation takes place within the framework of the “Social Responsibility” strategic goal.

A PRME Committee was established in 2018 with 16 representatives from all departments and service areas of SML as well as key academic scholars and lecturers with a special interest in different research areas of sustainable development. The Committee is responsible for developing and implementing the PRME Roadmap for SML every two years. It meets twice a year in a closed meeting. The Lead to the Committee belongs to the PRME Academic Person, a Professor who is also member of the Executive Board of SML supported by the PRME Coordinator, who is a research associate and has mainly representation and administrative duties. The main research focus areas of PRME in SML are: ethically responsible leadership, corporate responsibility management, sustainable finance, enabling energy transformation, Business and Human Rights and social law.

A budget of 60,000 CHF is provided by SML each year to be invested in PRME activities. The Center for Corporate Responsibility has been since 2014 responsible for all PRME activities in SML and for managing the PRME budget.

In which ways is research fostered, motivated, or incentivized by leadership in the institution

ZHAW’s main mission as seen in the university’s strategy 2015-2025 is to provide “qualitatively and quantitively strong research and development on specific areas”. The research and development is linked with the degree and continuing education programmes, with business services and with practice - conceptually and organisationally, as well as in terms of subject and staffing. Furthermore, it is oriented to international scientific communities and standards. According to the institution’s sustainability strategy “ZHAW carries out extensive sustainability research and leverages synergies with other universities”.

The participation of SML in international networks like Climate KIC, UN PRME and Global Business School Network are allowing to build a strong network and exchange knowledge in the area of research for sustainable development. SML gives twice a year monetary awards for most impactful research projects and publications. Many world- wide known academic scholars are invited as visiting scholars in the university. Research design workshops were offered in SML during 2022 for all employees willing to advance their skills in research.

ZHAW Sustainable, which is the strategic initiative for the implementation of the sustainability strategy in the university founded in 2021 the Sustainable Impact Programme (SIP), an internal funding programme to promote outstanding impactful research projects in the field of sustainable development. The SIP further promotes awareness of the 2030 research agenda and its 17 SDGs. This team is also responsible to organise research lunches and other networking events to promote research in sustainable development.

In addition to, the Research & Development Office of the university provides all kind of support in terms of data management platforms and other questions regarding research, while they own a blog called “ Research Support” with all the latest information about research calls, events and research funding instructions.

The University Library has a specially dedicated team that can provide support towards all steps needed to publish research.

Percentage of resources is directed toward sustainability-oriented research at your institution

Based on data from ZHAW Sustainable Impact Programme, 90,000 CHF is provided internally each year to all 8 schools of the university for sustainability- oriented projects. Each project is eligible to receive a fund of up to 30,000 CHF. In the case of SML the funds mostly come externally from European Union funding programs, Swiss National Foundation (SNF) and Innosuisse- Swiss Innovation Agency. In 2021, 10,5 million CHF revenue was generated for research in SML (directly or indirectly related to sustainability) from which 53% came from third party customers and 47% from public promotion agencies.

Main focus of the center's work

The Center for Energy and the Environment (CEE) deals with economic and business issues relating to energy and the environment on a national and international level. It cooperates closely with the other ZHAW institutes and centers active in energy research. The CEE worked closely with the Swiss Competence Center for Research in Energy, Society and Transition (SCCER CREST). The center is a member of the Swiss Carbon Removal Platform.

How many sustainability/SDG-oriented publications are produced by the center(s) each year on average? Please separate your response into peer-reviewed articles and other publications.

Around 3 peer reviewed articles are produced by the center each year and 2-3 publications of other kind in books and non scientific articles.

Explain briefly how research carried out in the center feeds into teaching, giving examples of modules/courses or related degree programmes.

The center runs multiple research projects like "H2020 SONNET- Social Innovation for the Energy Transition" whose overarching aim is to develop a systematic understanding of how social innovation in the energy sector can contribute to the European Union Energy Strategy and enable the clean transition of Europe’s energy system. In addition to that, the center is part together with other SML centers in the project SWEET (SWiss Energy research for the Energy Transition) program, which covers both the technical and social challenges of Swiss energy transition. The project DeCIRRA is focused on the Decarbonisation of Cities and Regions with Renewable Gases. All results fly to the newly launched CAS in Climate Strategies and bachelor/ master courses like on "Climate and Energy Economics".


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