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The Court

The historical building of the District Court of Lausanne


Forming part of Lausanne’s urban landscape, Montbenon District Court is one of Lausanne’s most important buildings. Its birth is closely linked to the history of modern Switzerland. According to article 106, the Federal Constitution established the seat of the permanent Federal Court in Lausanne. In 1886, the Court was federal, in 1928 it became a cantonal (regional) court and in 1986, a district court. Large areas of the building, planned successively over many decades to meet the changing legal needs of the court, have been refurbished taking into consideration the architecture of the building, and also by ensuring that the real needs for comfort and equipment are ensured.

Building details

Type of building: legal/administrative
Year of construction/ Floor area/ Operating hours: 1877 (Federal Court at the time)
Heating and cooling / measures installed Roof insulation, replacement windows; Upgraded the electrical, phone and heating systems; changed bathroom heating fittings and radiators throughout the building
Energy label/CO2 emissions In 2005, the rating for energy consumption was B (108 kWh/m2/a), B for CO2 emissions (16 kg/m2/a), and A for water consumption (72 l/m2/a).

Project Description

Aim The town of Lausanne has developed a strong energy and sustainable development policy. The challenge that was taken up and achieved was to ensure that the refurbishment maintained the architectural integrity of this historical building, especially with regard to the strict legislation applying to historical buildings, whilst reducing energy and water consumption.
Key points The process of remote management enabled rigorous follow-up and savings of approximately 5% of primary energy consumption compared to a traditional system. The remote management system was installed in 1991. It is made up of programmable units, which make it possible to fix electrical breakdowns without visiting the site, so improving response times.The building is connected to a district heating system. This limits the number of energy sources and individual chimneys used. The installations are subject to Swiss OPAIR (maximum air emissions) standards.The walls were built using 80 centimetres thick molasses, whilst the cold roof consists of zinc and titanium metal plating. The slate roof tiles form an unheated gap. Taken together, these elements contribute to the building’s high thermal inertia. Indoor temperature variance is small. All windows were refurbished in 1992. The good thermal properties of the secondary glazing and oak frames also contribute to reduced heat loss. The electrical, phone, and water and heating distribution systems (including radiators) were also replaced.The building has achieved a low level of energy consumption not only due to its refurbishment, but also due to rational use of the building.
Reason for inclusion as Shining Example This is an example of the refurbishment of an historic building constructed before 1900, involving window refurbishment and roof insulation. The challenge was to improve the energy efficiency of a building by undertaking changes which would not adversely affect its original features. This challenge appears to have been met because the building has achieved a B rating for energy, B for CO2 emissions and an A rating for water consumption.


Costs &


The work carried out from 1988 to 1992 and supplemented until 2000 appropriated a sum of CHF 12 million (approximately €7.75m).
Benefits The main benefits achieved have been the modernisation of the building and improvement of its energy efficiency without compromising its historic integrity.


Partnership details Close cooperation between SIL (Lausanne’s municipal energy services company), the estates management, the caretaker and the official responsible for the building made it possible to achieve coherent management of the Court on both a technical and user (behavioural) level.


Achievements Remote management allowed the minimisation of risk of maladjustment, malfunction and breakdown of the heating system. In this way it was possible to limit energy losses and pollution.
Lessons Learned The installation of the remote management system made it possible to identify, appropriate and measure real energy savings. It proved to be an interesting technical solution as part of sustainability policy for buildings.
This example highlights how, despite the limits arising from the need to preserve the District Court’s historical and cultural integrity, it is fully achievable to plan and to implement and achieve efficient and sustainable levels of energy consumption.

To know more

Organisation Municipality of Lausanne, Industrial Services
Contact Georges Ohana
Phone +41 21 315 87 12

Useful info

Arrangements to visit Municipality of Lausanne, Industrial Services

Georges Ohana

Tel +41 21 315 87 12

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