Cham, 23.11.2020

Now one of the best Swiss energy cities

The municipality of Cham has been awarded the "European Energy Award® GOLD" for the fifth time. With a result of 83.8%, Cham has made it into the top five of Switzerland's best energy cities for the first time.

The "European Energy Award® GOLD" is awarded to municipalities that are continuously engaged in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energies and climate protection, while meeting particularly high requirements. Cham passed the 2020 re-audit with an excellent rating of 83.8%. "This is the best result yet for the Energiestadt’ (energy city) GOLD Cham. Cham thereby occupies 5th place in the Swiss Energy City ranking, right after the major cities of Bern, Lucerne, Lausanne and Zurich," says Drin Alaj, municipal councillor and head of transport and security.

Top position as a proof of performance
"This top position is a proof of performance for municipalities that embody and implement a sustainable municipal energy policy," continues Drin Alaj. Cham has been an energy city since 2001, and became GOLD in 2004, as the first municipality in Central Switzerland. There are now as many as 454 ‘energy cities’ in Switzerland, but only 55 of them can call themselves ‘Energy City GOLD’. "Although the bar for energy cities has been set ever higher in recent years, Cham has been able to continuously increase its energy city rating. This confirms that Cham is on the right track on energy policy issues," explains Alaj.

Re-audit every four years
The ‘Energiestadt’ label and the services of the municipality are reviewed every four years, in a so-called ‘re-audit’. The following six areas of importance for energy policy are evaluated in the Energy City process: development planning and the use of space, municipal buildings, supply and disposal, mobility, internal organisation and communication. On the basis of a catalogue of measures, experts from the Energiestadt Schweiz sponsoring association check whether the targets defined in the activity programme have been met or whether action is still needed. The Energy City label is then awarded to municipalities, cities or even regions if they have implemented or decided on more than 50% of the possible measures for the energy and environmental policy. 75 % of the measures have to be met for the GOLD label.

An energy city is made up from many measures
"The energy policy stance of an Energy City is not only reflected in the major lighthouse projects," continues Drin Alaj. "It is the countless smaller measures that make up an energy city." Cham's commitment to energy policy over the past four years can be demonstrated by a number of concrete projects: Cham has an attractive support programme, which provides financial support for homeowners in, among other things, the installation of photovoltaic systems and the replacement of fossil fuel and purely electrical heating systems.

Great satisfaction for all the protagonists regarding the excellent performance of Cham in the energy city GOLD ranking
(from left): Patricia Frison Schnurrenberger, environmental officer Cham, Manuela Hotz, project manager for the environment Cham, Ruedi Zurbrügg, president of the energy city commission Cham, Katja Schürmann, energy city consultant and municipal councillor Drin Alaj.

Cham has also worked on the energy optimization of the community's own properties, for example, with the renovation of buildings and the installation of a photovoltaic system in the Röhrliberg I, Niederwil and Alpenblick school buildings. Several new footpaths and bicycle paths have been opened to promote resource-saving mobility. Furthermore, the re-utilisation of the Papieri area (former Cham Paper Mill) made a model project with regard to efficient and renewable energy supply possible. Last but not least, the topic of energy and climate protection is also embedded in schools. The municipality contributes to the implementation of energy efficiency weeks and clean-up days, and organises Day of Sun events with pupils.

2000 watt society is the goal
"As an energy city, Cham is guided by the long-term goals of the ‘2000-Watt society’, and the municipality is committed to promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy sources," explains Manuela Hotz. As project manager for the environment, she led the re-audit process with the support of energy city consultant Katja Schürmann and, in cooperation with the Energy City Commission, advised the municipal council on energy policy issues. "Our energy and climate balance shows that Cham is well on the way towards the 2000-watt society: the continuous output of primary energy per person in Cham has fallen from 5,396 (in 2014) to 4,085 W/EW (in 2019). This corresponds to a reduction of 24%," says the project manager with pleasure. "The municipal council supports the Federal Council's net zero target, as well as the targets of the Energy Strategy 2050.

That’s why the municipal council will be adapting the energy concept in line with these goals in 2021," adds Drin Alaj, concluding: "Although there’s still a long way to go before climate neutrality, the energy policy of Cham is well on track, and will continue to commit itself to a sustainable energy future in the coming years."