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Sustainability In Your Hands: Basel City Lab Provides Swiss Citizens CO2 Tracking App

Sustainability in your hands: Basel City Lab provides Swiss citizens CO2 tracking app

article by: Devon Wemyss and Manuel Grieder, ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences

The smart phone app “enerjoy” – which has been under development by the Swiss electricity utility IWB in Basel for several years – is the fitness tracker for your CO2 footprint. The SONNET research team in Switzerland joined forces with IWB for the full launch of the app and to run a trial to test its effectiveness via a 500-person study.

It’s hard to change what we can’t immediately see, feel or measure

The enerjoy app supports people to develop new ways of being more environmentally conscious around their food and transportation choices. The app helps you do daily tracking of high-impact food choices, like eating meat and dairy products, as well as mobility choices, such as taking your bike or the car. These are collected to show your overall CO2 footprint. Suggestions for alternative, more CO2-friendly choices, motivating messages, and in-app challenges that can be done with friends, are all part of the app’s approach to helping people measure their impact and see the direct results of behavioural change.

Screenshot from app, accessed via

What can be done during a pandemic?

The SONNET-enerjoy trial ran from October to December 2020, with 500 people in Switzerland who were either part of a control group (without the app), or had access to enerjoy to track their daily CO2 footprint.

The trial took place while mobility was restricted in Switzerland due to COVID-19 health measures – people were thus moving around the city (and beyond) dramatically less. Luckily, the project was still able to go forward, focusing on supporting more sustainable eating choices.

Three surveys with all 500 trial participants also illustrated how people perceived the change in their behaviour compared to before the COVID-19 measures went into place.

With some analysis and research, SONNET will be able to report on the impact of the enerjoy app (through comparison to those that did not use it), and will hopefully be able to use survey responses to gain insights into behaviours that would normally have taken place, if it hadn’t have been for COVID-19 restrictions. We look forward to reporting more on these results early in 2021.

“I was amazed how even a short car journey exhausts the daily CO2 allowance. I will therefore use public transport more often for short journeys.”

– enerjoy app user

Despite the challenges of running such a trial during this time of pandemic, feedback from participants was encouraging. Many felt that they truly learnt something new about sustainable behaviours through the app, particularly when direct choices were compared to an alternative, like consuming milk products vs. vegan alternatives, or using a car vs. bus.

The app has a clear target audience: those who care about their environmental impact, but are not sure what they can do to change it. While there are many ways to address this group, the enerjoy app appears to have been a successful tool to use, especially during a time when digital solutions were key to reaching people.

Read more about SONNET’s work in Basel here.

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