Switzerland: Balancing Development and Environmental Responsibility



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Perhaps it should not be surprising that the hyper-modern Swiss are applying cutting-edge heat extraction technology to a nineteenth-century luxury hotel. On Lake St. Moritz, Badrutt’s Palace hotel heats its 200 rooms by sucking 40-degree lake water into a heat exchanger, which extracts enough energy to send 158-degree vapor circulating through heating pipes. The system saves 125,000 gallons of oil annually—enough to heat 140 U.S. homes for a year—reducing carbon emissions by 1,200 tons.

The Swiss take their carbon footprint seriously. About half the country’s energy is supplied by hydro­power. An astounding 94 percent of glass and 81 percent of plastic is recycled (compare that with 40 percent for plastic in New York City). The spectacular national parks—from the terraced vineyards of the Lavaux to Mount San Giorgio, a ­UNESCO World Heritage Site—are models for balancing environmental protection with tourism. Locals vote to establish a reserve, and then receive government assistance for development and promotion.

And yes, you can set your watch by the Swiss trains. The government has poured resources into minimizing idling time (reducing carbon emissions) and shrinking connection times. Stop in Fribourg and hop on the 1899 funicular, now powered using the city’s wastewater.

Switzerland Tourism, www.myswitzerland.coim