A climate-neutral neighborhood with a unique energy system

The Papieri site is creating a wholly innovative foundation for an energy-efficient, climate-neutral and sustainable society, making it a groundbreaking project within Switzerland.

  • A unique, environmentally friendly energy system
  • 100% renewable, fossil-free energy
  • Largely energy self-sufficient
  • Production covers 40% of the total on-site electricity requirement (hydroelectric power plant and photovoltaic system)
  • Site power grid with local usage association
  • Heating and cooling generated using geothermal energy and the thermal energy of the River Lorze
  • 75% energy self-sufficiency on the site

Over 360 years ago, a paper mill in Cham was granted permission to harness the power of the River Lorze. This laid the foundation for unparalleled power generation infrastructure in the modern residential and working district of today.

It boasts a unique, environmentally friendly energy system: 100% renewable, fossil-free and largely energy self-sufficient. In the emerging district, which will ultimately have 1,000 homes and 1,000 jobs, 40% of the total electricity requirement is covered locally by the hydroelectric power plant and the photovoltaic system. The district’s own power grid can be tapped into by a medium-voltage local usage association.

Heating and cooling are generated using geothermal energy and thermal energy from the River Lorze. The Papieri development has a high level of energy self-sufficiency at 75%.

Highly digitalized energy management ensures optimal use and efficient consumption of district energy, enhanced by smart technology for residents and local businesses, an electromobility concept and biodiversity measures.

Awarded the Watt d’Or

The Watt d’Or is the quality seal for energy excellence awarded by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE). In 2024, the Cham Group joined the illustrious ranks of Watt d’Or winners. Together with its planning partners Andy Wickart Haustechnik AG, Alfacel AG and pom+Consulting, it has already brought the energy transition to life on an urban scale at the Papieri site. A climate-neutral neighborhood that will be solely reliant on renewable energy is being built on the former factory site. The Cham Group won in the Renewable Energy category, underscoring its efforts to commit to the future of energy.

40% electricity generated on site
6500m2 solar panels
75% energy self-sufficient
1 hydro power plant
100% carbon neutral

Heating and cooling straight from the ground and river

The roots of the Papieri site go deep: 290 geothermal probes extract energy from a depth of 320 meters. These geothermal probe fields form the site’s most important source of energy. They are operated as a seasonal storage facility: in winter they extract heat for all of the residential and commercial units, and in summer they are used to provide air conditioning. In addition, the river water in the Lorze provides an important means of generating heat on the site. For more, see Papieri People.

On-site electricity generation

Electricity comes straight from the roof: around 40% of the energy required on the site comes from right here, thanks to around 6,500 m2 of solar panels on the roofs.

However, electricity also comes from the river: the site’s own river hydro power plant on the Lorze will undergo extensive upgrading so that it can continue to make a major contribution to the site’s energy supply, as it did in the past.

Smart networking

In a unique and forward-looking approach, the electricity produced is supplied to all users on the site at low cost via the site’s own electricity network and used to produce heating and cooling.

Smart, innovative networking of buildings and systems is coupled with central energy management software to optimize energy in a sustainable way and boost operating and maintenance efficiency.

Hydro power plant on the Lorze

Papieri has the very first concession to operate a river hydro power plant in the canton of Zug. The power station of the former paper mill has been undergoing total renovation since early summer 2021. The old wooden turbines are going into well-deserved retirement and will form part of the exhibits in the museum to be set up in the new power station building.

A fish and beaver ladder ensures that the animals can move freely up and down the river past the power station. A large section of the river that runs along the northern side of the site has already been completely restored to nature. The area around the former wastewater treatment plant has been redesigned and is now fed by a small river channel, creating a new natural habitat that will add to the ecological upgrading of the site.

Comfort control from the sofa

Make things warmer or lighter with a single swipe. Every home is equipped with a smart living system that allows all heating, lighting, ventilation, shading and energy management functions to be controlled via a central touch panel and via cellphone or tablet.

The smart controls also provide information on energy consumption – when adjusting the room temperature, especially with cooling systems, for instance – and comfort ventilation. This allows the user to adapt their energy consumption in an informed manner.

Recycling buildings

Meaningful conversion of the historical buildings not only provides the site with a ready-made sense of identity, but also lowers the carbon emissions caused by developing the site. That’s why 25% of the existing buildings will be retained on the Papieri site.

The new buildings are to be constructed using innovative, sustainable technology such as timber-concrete composite structures (e.g. Building I) or recycled concrete, wherever possible. There is also huge emphasis on short transport routes and the use of Swiss building materials.

First «2000-watt site» in the canton of Zug

The Federal Office of Energy awarded Papieri in February 2022, the first «2000-watt site» certification in the canton of Zug. Since the very start of the redevelopment of the site, the Cham Group, as the client, has focused on

  • zero carbon emissions,
  • sustainable operation,
  • energy-efficient construction and
  • future-oriented mobility.

The Papieri site creates a wholly innovative foundation for an energy-efficient, climate-neutral and sustainable society. The 2000-watt site certification recognizes the ongoing sustainability efforts being made on the Papieri site.

Download facts & figures «2000-Watt-Areal» Papieri (German).

Stefan Frey
Leiter techn. Gebäude- & Energiemanagement
Cham Group

we are the
papieri people

we are the
papieri people

Stefan Frey
Leiter techn. Gebäude- & Energiemanagement
Cham Group

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