Respect for the environment

“Depots move forward”

Two interns have put our depots in Western Switzerland and the Upper Valais under the eco-microscope. Using a practice-based approach, they have injected new momentum into sustainability work at several Implenia sites.

In the first half of 2020, Laura Barfuss and Pierre Razurel, environmental engineers by training, completed an internship at Implenia which has now led to permanent jobs. In consultation with local managers they developed a sustainability concept for our depots in Satigny, Echandens, Fribourg, Vétroz, Niedergesteln and La Chaux-de-Fonds. “We were able to have a concrete impact so the work was very satisfying,” says Pierre Razurel. The two interns took a holistic approach that encompasses all the environmental considerations relevant to the depots. For each of these issues – such as water, energy or waste – they put together a guide with detailed procedures that take into account the latest environmental protection regulations. They also highlight examples of best practice that are already working well elsewhere. 

Laura and Pierre also made suggestions for improvements and modernisation. Some of these were implemented by the responsible managers even before the concept work was completed. “The depots don’t have a reputation for being particularly innovative workplaces,” says Laura Barfuss. "But we met with great goodwill from the employees and were able to achieve a lot together.” The carpenters at the Satigny depot, for example, built a large compost container. Positive experiences like this convinced Laura that the depots could be a kind of laboratory for sustainable behaviours. “Daily interaction between the depots and construction workers make it easy to transfer new ideas to construction sites.”

Pilot projects for various measures have therefore quickly led to measurable outcomes. The gratifying results show that the chosen approach is bearing fruit. Thanks to the commitment of depot managers, the different locations in Western Switzerland are now also exchanging ideas with each other, and the depots will continue to develop joint projects even after the two students have returned to the lecture hall.

Progress is also being made in the depots of German-speaking Switzerland. The Schattdorff depot in Canton Uri, for example, took a major step towards greater sustainability in spring 2020. Its 40-year-old roof was due for renovation, but instead of simply replacing the potentially hazardous asbestos sheets, the depot, where 22 employees work, installed a large rooftop photovoltaic system covering 300 square metres. With a capacity of 57.2 kilowatts the system can now generate around 57,000 kilowatt hours of electrical energy from the sun every year. The depot itself uses half of this and feeds the rest into the electricity grid.