2050Today Members

CERN – European Organization for Nuclear Research

Today, climate change and protecting the environment are among the greatest challenges that humanity faces. At CERN, we are actively investigating how we can continue to advance the frontiers of human knowledge while minimising the environmental footprint of our facilities and being a positive contributor of solutions

Contribution to climate action

CERN’s strategy for environmentally responsible research

Over the decades, CERN has become a byword for excellence in research, establishing itself as a model for scientific collaboration across borders, technological innovation, training and education.

Today, environmental responsibility has joined this list. Good environmental stewardship stands prominently among the Management’s objectives and is embedded in every corner of the Organization, with a strategic, proactive approach across the Laboratory and among CERN’s worldwide scientific community.

Driven by this commitment to environmentally responsible research, CERN has implemented many initiatives over the years that were key to reduce the impact of its activities on the environment. CERN is fully committed to environmental protection and transparent reporting. CERN’s public environment reports set out reporting frameworks, setting and monitoring concrete goals for constant improvement. The reports address many environmental topics, including the six thematic sectors that are considered by the 2050Today initiative, for which highlights are provided below.

Thematic actions


623 hectares of land are made available by the Host States (Switzerland and France) to CERN. This area comprises 116 hectares of green spaces, 136 hectares of woods and forests and 258 hectares of agricultural plots leased to local farmers.

CERN’s Masterplan reflects the Organization’s vision in terms of future campus development for the period until 2040 for both of its main sites, Meyrin and Prévessin. It enables CERN to understand the practical consequences of development and to manage it in a responsible way. From measures to preserve biodiversity to optimised mobility solutions, careful building management and consolidation and the integration of facilities into the surrounding landscape, the Masterplan takes into account the current and future needs of the Laboratory, along with those of its neighbours, including potential development outside the current fenced area.

CERN harbours 18 species of orchid on its sites alongside a vast variety of flora, including some endangered species as confirmed by an in-depth biodiversity inventory carried out in 2022. A further 62 species of Lepidoptera and 32 species of Orthoptera were identified in this context.

For more information see: https://hse.cern/environment-report-2021-2022/biodiversity


The overarching principles of CERN’s energy strategy can be summarised in three key concepts : use less, increase efficiency and recover waste energy. 

The Laboratory is committed to increasing energy reuse and to limiting rises in electricity consumption to 5% up to the end of its third operations period, known as Run 3 (baseline year: 2018), while delivering significantly increased performance of its facilities.

 In recent years, major efforts to reduce electricity consumption have been undertaken, through optimisation and dedicated actions, resulting in savings of some 100 GWh/year since 2010. CERN was awarded the ISO 50001 energy management certification in February 2023. In this context, the Organization published an Energy Policy in October 2022, designed to continuously improve CERN’s energy performance by keeping the energy required for its activities to a minimum, improving energy efficiency and recovering waste energy.

For more information see: https://hse.cern/environment-report-2021-2022/energy


CERN has several restaurants, cafeterias and vending machines on its sites, all run by external companies. The main provider is NOVAE, which operates three restaurants, five cafeterias and the majority of the vending machines. NOVAE has a well-defined sustainability roadmap, which favours fresh, seasonal produce from local suppliers and includes continued efforts to optimise its carbon “foodprint” (a term coined by NOVAE). The company aims to have 100% of its staff trained in environmental matters and 40% of all meals served vegetarian by 2025. At CERN, the “ReCIRCLE” project is in place, whereby meals are served in reusable packaging, and efforts to reduce single-use plastics continue.

For more information see: https://hse.cern/environment-report-2021-2022/emissions


Business travel

A Duty Travel Working Group was set up in April 2022 to develop recommendations for CERN-wide duty travel with the goal of reducing travel-related emissions. These recommendations were approved and implemented in 2024 including a decision tree to raise awareness among the CERN personnel and engage them in the collective effort. The recommendations broadly include: reducing travel (especially by air); using overland transport (especially trains) where possible, taking into account time and cost efficiency; for distances of between 700 and 1000 km, the use of overland transport (especially trains) is encouraged; if flying is unavoidable, to fly efficiently by selecting the most direct route and standard economy class. Complementary guidelines for the environmentally responsible organisation of events and the related travel were also provided to the CERN personnel.

Personnel commutes

CERN’s goal for 2025 is to keep individual motorised vehicle commuting constant, despite a growing scientific community, and to encourage alternative modes of transportation, such as public transport, cycling and car pooling. At the end of 2022, a survey showed that 61% of CERN personnel use individual motorised vehicles for their commuting, a reduction of 7% compared to the last survey in 2018. Overall, the fraction of those walking and cycling increased and constitutes 24% of all commutes (17% in 2018).

CERN has a fleet of approximately 550 bicycles that are available free of charge to its personnel, and operates a rental car fleet and a shuttle service for inter- and intra-site mobility. A dedicated mobility working group meets regularly to review all aspects of mobility services and processes, including safety, parking, green mobility, public transport and site access. Its activity is aligned with the general objectives that have been set for mobility in CERN’s 2040 Masterplan and in the mobility plan.

For more information see: https://hse.cern/environment-report-2021-2022/emissions

Sustainable IT

By the time the HL-LHC starts up in 2029, the total computing capacity required by the experiments is expected to have grown by up to a factor of 10. To meet these increased needs, a new data centre has been inaugurated on CERN’s Prévessin site in February 2023. It is designed to be a modern and energy-efficient structure which will meet the new computing needs of the community. The objective is to achieve a power usage effectiveness (PUE—an indicator used for measuring the energy efficiency of a data centre) of around 1.1. The PUE of the existing CERN Data Centre in Meyrin is about 1.5. Energy efficiency is a key consideration for the building, which includes a system to recover heat to heat all 73 buildings on the Prévessin site.

Furthermore, to save resources and energy in the future, a key focus is on efforts to modernise code, develop ways for it to run more efficiently on the latest hardware and improve data management. Establishing innovative new approaches to key computing tasks, often based on machine learning and other related technologies, also contributes to reducing the overall amount of computing resources needed and thus plays a vital role in minimising energy consumption increases.

CERN’s service on Storage, Recuperation and Sales, which is part of the Site and Civil Engineering Department, also runs a campaign to collect broken or and unused IT equipment.

For more information see: https://hse.cern/environment-report-2021-2022/energy

Waste management

CERN’s scientific activities generate the majority of the Organization’s waste. The Laboratory’s conventional waste can be divided into three broad categories: campus, industrial and worksite waste. It is further categorised as either non-hazardous (e.g. metals, glass, paper and cardboard, household waste) or hazardous (e.g. chemicals). CERN’s objective is to increase its recycling rate for non-hazardous waste.

CERN’s approach to waste management follows the “reduce, reuse and recycle” principle. In this vein, the Organization aims to become an eco-exemplary campus, continuing to fully comply with the applicable French and Swiss regulations in terms of waste management and waste disposal. A dedicated waste management roadmap was published in August 2022, paving the way for additional and more refined objectives in the future.

The recycling rate for non-hazardous waste rose from 56% (baseline year: 2018) to 69% in 2022. A pathway for the recuperation, reconditioning and sale of viable equipment, including furniture, IT and electronic equipment, is in place.

For more information see: https://hse.cern/environment-report-2021-2022/waste

Footprint and emissions by scope

To be in line with the 2050Today initiative and provide a meaningful set of data in line with those of the institutions of International Geneva, the carbon footprint reported on these pages takes into account the emissions generated by the CERN campus activities and exclude emissions generated by CERN’s unique particle accelerator complex and large experiments. It was established in accordance with the internationally-recognised methodology of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which categorises the emissions into three scopes. Details of CERN specificities are provided below for each of the emissions categories considered in the framework of the 2050Today initiative.

The Organization’s campus data takes into account small experiments, laboratories, workshops, hostels and offices, and the computing centre, all of which are situated on the Meyrin and Prévessin sites. The total reported carbon footprint of all CERN activities is published in the CERN biennial environment reports, the latest spanning years 2021-2022, accessible here: https://environment.cern/environment-report.

CERN specificities

Energy: The associated CO2 emissions take into consideration the electricity and fossil fuel consumption for the CERN campus only. The CO2 emissions associated to electricity were assessed on a location-based methodology (with EDF as main supplier), with average yearly emission factors taken from the ADEME Base Empreinte©, and that of fossil fuels by the Bilan Carbon® method.

Mobility: The associated CO2 emissions take into consideration business travel and commuting of members of personnel on the CERN payroll. For commuting, the resulting data are based on the results of a survey carried out among its members of personnel at the end of 2022.

Food: The CERN restaurants serve food to all customers on CERN premises. The CO2 emissions reported here refer to all customers and not only CERN personnel. They were established with a calculation methodology aligned with the GHG protocol, with emissions derived from the Ecoinvent database.

Purchase of goods: scope 3 emissions arising from procurement, related to purchased goods and services and capital goods, were reported for the first time by CERN in its third environment report spanning years 2021-2022. Although not reported at campus level in the tables below as that level of granularity is not available, they can be consulted in full in the third CERN environment report, accessible here: https://environment.cern/environment-report-2021-2022/emissions.

Waste: The CO2 impact of waste takes into account all CERN waste, including that arising from the accelerator complex, experiments and civil engineering. They were established with a calculation methodology aligned with the GHG protocol, with emissions derived from the Ecoinvent database.

Full time equivalent (FTE): only categories of personnel remunerated or receiving subsistence from CERN budgets are included.

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