swissnex Brazil goes green!

swissnex Brazil goes green!

Christian Michel-Casulleras

Junior Project Manager, swissnex Brazil


After a year of operations in Brazil with a main office in Rio de Janeiro and a satellite in São Paulo, swissnex Brazil celebrated its one-year anniversary on April 4, 2014. This gave us the chance to celebrate our accomplishments and successful projects and events; it also allowed us to introduce swissnex’s mission for our second year of existence: ‘The Year of Sustainability’.


Switzerland – champion in sustainability!


It is well know, that the Swiss are environmentally conscious. We have rigid exhaust emissions standards, good waste management and recycling strategies, carefully controlled landscape and urban planning, energy-efficient transportation, and we usually rank top in the environmental performance indexes, which evaluate air pollution, water quality, biodiversity, management of natural resources, and climate change. Pioneering policies in environmental protection have made Switzerland a leading location for the development and marketing of clean-technology products and services worldwide. At swissnex Brazil, we identified possible synergies between Switzerland and Brazil in the areas of sustainability, renewable energies, clean technologies, recycling, and environmental S&T for the 2015-2016 period.


Why Rio de Janeiro? Why 2015?


Rio de Janeiro is a reference point in this domain. This city has hosted two of the most important international conferences on sustainability: the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992 and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio+20 in 2012. This year, one of the most important international conferences on environment and climate change will be held in Paris. There are a lot of expectations on a new binding climate agreement at the Paris Conference of Parties this year.


Sustainable Projects & Events

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Taking advantage of our location in Rio de Janeiro, during this important environmental-friendly year, we planned to focus on sustainability for the majority of our projects.


To introduce this subject to our local audience, we invited the environmentalist, activist, environmental educator, and consultant in solar energy, Vânia Stolze to give a lecture on “Solar Energy in the communities of Rio de Janeiro”. She coordinated together with Greenpeace Brazil a project called the Solar Youth Project, which installed the first solar system micro distributor at the Morro dos Macacos community in Rio de Janeiro.



Urban Farmers at Virada Sustentável and Film Ambiente International Festival

(28.08 – 2.09)


  • ‘Virada Sustentável’ is the biggest sustainable education and mobilization conference in Latin America. This annual event will be held in São Paulo and focuses on climate change, smart consumption, human rights and citizenship, creative economy, life quality, urban mobility, recycling, green economy, and biodiversity.
  • Film Ambiente’s 5th edition will be held in several cultural places in the city of Rio de Janeiro, presenting a total of 69 movies. This Year, for the first time, the Film Ambiente International Festival committee will organize special meetings and workshops for schools and large public in general at the “Museu do Meio-Ambiente”.


swissnex Brazil will present at these two events the project of Urban Farmers developed by Roman Gaus alumni from University of St.Gallen and pioneer of urban food production in cities. This project is an integrative initiative with the main purpose to use vacant land such as empty rooftops for commercial-scale farming of fish and vegetables. This startup designs and operates commercial rooftop greenhouses growing fish and vegetables using a technology called Aquaponics, which re-circulates waste-water from the fish as fertilizer for plants. This approach saves 90% of fresh water, provides a zero-residue product and eliminates food miles dramatically – and could potentially provide millions of people with access to fresh and healthy local food production.

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Megaproject: Race for Water Odyssey (R4WO)

(4.11 – 18 .11)


This is a Swiss scientific expedition aiming to raise awareness about plastic devastation in the oceans. The R4WO’s team is sailing around the world from Monaco to Rio, stopping by Singapore, New York, Valparaiso and other cities in less than 300 days. Doing so, they are mapping and measuring the plastic garbage with a new drone provided by ETH. The team is doing analysis of the water and beaches impacted. The aim is to help understanding the environmental consequences and try to find solutions for garbage collection and recycling. Moreover, the report established at the end of the journey will help to implement international regulations against marine pollution.


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Megaproject: AtlantikSolar by ETH



AtlantikSolar will be the first-ever crossing of the Atlantic Ocean using a solar-powered drone (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – UAV). Due to Brazil’s solar energy potential, big territory, and meteorological conditions, this country has been chosen to hold the first long-distance test flight. A flight is planned in over the Amazon region (from Belém to Caxiuanã) to test the aircraft resistance. swissnex Brazil will organize sharing of collected data over the Amazon region, an opening event, scientific activities, and converences on new trends in solar energy and drones for the general public in Belém, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.



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An eco-friendly swissnex office!


We took 10 simple steps to green our office in Rio de Janeiro and make it the most eco-friendly possible!


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  1. Reduce: when shopping, think differently, looking for things that will last longer
  2. Reuse: always using the other side of the used sheets of paper!
  3. Recycle: Carton & Paper, Plastic (with emphasis on PET), Glass, and Aluminum
  4. REFUSE! simply put: by not buying stuff we don’t need. And, when making a purchase, bringing our own bags (particularly a problem in Brazil because you always get TWO plastic bags for every item you buy at the supermarket or stores)
  5. Using environmentally friendly office products: for example refillable ink cartridges or non-toxic highlighters
  6. Transportation: every single member of the office uses public transport, bikes, or walks to work!
  7. Aim for paperless office: trying to cut down on printed material when possible
  8. Instituting a casual dress code: not having to wear suits in hot summer months can help cooling costs down (and make for a happier workplace)
  9. Use electricity and water wisely: turning off all computers, printers, and other equipment and checking that they are set to their most energy efficient settings
  10. Creating our own organic garden: in the process thanks to our Student Resident Leslie!



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Read our next article on: ‘Switzerland in the Forefront of Solar Vehicles’.