Greening the streets of CERN

This week, CERN took delivery of bi-fuel cars for the first time. Designed to run on petrol or natural gas, these vehicles represent a cost effective way to reduce our emissions immediately. With widely distributed sites and considerable personal transport needs, this is an important step forward and another clear indication of CERN’s green credentials.


CERN’s internal public transport service, if I can put it that way, consists of some 500 bicycles, an on-site shuttle service that has transported over 40000 people in the last 12 months, and a sizeable fleet of light vehicles numbering 866 in total.

As vehicle contracts come to an end, we are constantly on the lookout for greener solutions to our transport needs. Today, natural gas is the ideal solution, being less polluting than either petrol or diesel. Although the vehicles cost slightly more than their petrol equivalents, the difference is partially subsidised by the Swiss natural gas industry, and we consider the emissions reduction well worth the extra investment. Tomorrow’s technology may be hybrids or electric vehicles, but that technology is not yet sufficiently cost-effective for us.

When we take full delivery of 100 cars, it will be the largest natural gas fleet in French-speaking Switzerland. So important does the local energy utility, SIG, consider this development to be that they have arranged for natural gas to be available close to CERN at the BP station on the Route du Nant d’Avril.

Each step that CERN takes for the environment makes a difference. Our new green buildings and now the fleet of bi-fuel cars are each important in their own right. Taken together, they add up to a long-term engagement by CERN to protect the environment.

Rolf Heuer