What are ‘sustainable embassies’?

Two hands holding a small green house made of paper.
Swiss embassies are being optimised in the three dimensions of sustainability – environment, economy and society. © Keystone

Switzerland is committed at home and abroad to ensuring the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is implemented efficiently. Switzerland is also assuming its responsibility for a sustainable environment and society abroad through ‘sustainable embassies’.

The term ‘sustainable embassies’ refers to the complete optimisation of Swiss embassies in the three dimensions of sustainability (environment, economy and society). In this dossier, measures that are part of the environment dimension are presented in particular – more specifically in the areas of energy and resources efficiency, renewable energies, climate protection, promotion of biodiversity and environment-conscious construction. Raising the awareness of all embassy staff plays a major role here. They actively contribute to the attainment of sustainability goals through their everyday routines. The Swiss representations lead by example abroad and showcase Switzerland’s commitment to sustainability. 

Sustainable buildings sector

Buildings play a important role in Switzerland's good performance in terms of sustainability. The Federal Office for Buildings and Logistics (FOBL) supports the sustainable construction and maintenance of buildings belonging to the Swiss Confederation in Switzerland and abroad. The three sustainability dimensions – environment, economy and society – are all taken into account in a well-balanced way in all phases of real estate management. Tasks are always carried out based on the principles of fitness for purpose, cost-effectiveness and user requirements, taking account of the local context, such as traditional methods of construction, climatically-adapted buildings and environmentally-friendly installations. The FOBL complies with the ‘Swiss Sustainable Construction Standards’ for all buildings in Switzerland and abroad. Sustainability criteria are even applied when selecting construction sites and building stock. 

Part of Switzerland’s contribution to implementing the 2030 Agenda 

The ‘sustainable embassies’ dossier is part of Switzerland’s contribution to implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, both of which were adopted by the international community in 2015. The dossier is also incorporated into the Federal Council’s action plan for a green economy and the ‘Rumba: Resource and Environmental Management of the Federal Administration’ project. But sustainable embassies do not only comply with international and national policies and strategies. Applying sustainability criteria also makes financial sense as it helps to reduce the maintenance and operating costs of Swiss embassy buildings abroad. This represents a cost-effective approach as well as benefiting the environment and society.