Research at the Institute for Facility Management
Application-driven and innovative - Switzerland's leading player in the field of facility management (FM)
The research activities of the Institute for Facility Management (IFM) are aimed at process-related, organisational, methodological and product-driven development and innovation in the field of facility management, and its application-driven research focuses on current and future economic and social issues.
The Institute's work is underpinned by high scientific standards and industry relevance, and it aims to promote a theoretical and methodological understanding of its chosen issues, topics and activities. Its cutting-edge research and active efforts in terms of transferring knowledge to industry make it an indispensable partner and driving force within the sector.
Institute of Facility Management - areas of research
Our three Competency Groups offer application-driven research and services in the following fields:
- Life cycle management
- Energy management
- Workplace management
- FM in healthcare
- Consumer science and consumer FM
- Knowledge and behaviour
- Strategy, models, concepts
We are Switzerland's leading player in the field of facility management (FM). Our strengths include not only application-driven research and development carried out in close collaboration with public and private entities, but also:
- Identifying new solutions
- Optimising management processes
- Consultancy on strategic decisions
- Support for change processes
Business Administration/Human Resources Competency Group
The Business Administration/Human Resources Competencys Group provides teaching, research and services relating to business management and employee-related issues. It takes a scientific and application-driven approach to its work, and develops robust and practical solutions in collaboration with its clients and cooperation partners.
Hospitality Management Competency Group
The activities of the Hospitality Management Competency Group are focused on research, development and consultancy in and around the entire field of hospitality and service management. Its taught courses cover infrastructure services and strategic facility management, and its clients and partners include public and private entitles, in particular healthcare institutions, as well as schools and other businesses.
The Group develops implementation-ready solutions to various hospitality management problems in the capacity of an independent expert, and cooperates closely with the IFM's Real Estate Management and Business Administration/Human Resources Competency Groups, other institutes within Switzerland and external partners.
Real Estate Management Competency Group
The IFM's Real Estate Management Competency Group carries out research, development and knowledge transfers to industry in the field of FM-related real estate issues and solutions, with the aim of boosting the significance of real estate as a production factor for the Swiss economy. It collaborates closely with the Swiss real estate sector, and tackles current problems within the framework of research projects implemented together with industry partners. The Group is also actively involved in developing FM-based guidelines for the real estate sector in order to raise the overall economic profile of this field, and passes on the new knowledge it generates to its students along with the basics of real estate management.
The Institute has the expertise and infrastructure needed to handle application-driven research and development projects and provide contract-based services on a tailor-made basis for public- and private-sector clients. We take an efficient and innovative approach to solving everyday business problems, with state research funding (Innosuisse – Swiss Innovation Agency, SNF (Swiss National Fund), EU) and assistance from industry partners available on a project-specific basis.
The following forms of cooperation are available:
Our application-driven scientific research projects are implemented together with industry partners and in some cases funded by the state, for example via the Innosuisse – Swiss Innovation Agency or international European research programmes.
The Group's research activities focus on the qualitative and quantitative analysis of spatial, human and organisational factors with a view to combining economically meaningful objectives and user satisfaction. The impact of work environments on health, performance, satisfaction and comfort is analysed from a workplace management perspective in order to develop user- and use-oriented concepts for the design, management and operation of buildings and building types.
A variety of FM-specific HR concerns are also investigated, for example the management of low-skilled staff, interdisciplinarity and multiculturalism.
Service value management focuses on the question of how facility management can generate the highest possible internal and external service value; the answer can be found by analysing the interrelationships between internal service value, employees, external service value, clients and profit with a view to designing an appropriate strategy for managing FM services and relationships.
Sample past projects
- Innosuisse research project "Quality of sustainable structures - impacts of sustainable buildings on user comfort, wellbeing and performance"
- Innosuisse research project "Business clubs - increased productivity through new forms of work and activity-based offices"
- Innosuisse research project "Complaints and improvements procedures"
The Hospitality & Service Management Competency Group researches and works on topics in the context of hospitality and service management. The focus is on stakeholder-centric management of services as for example in healthcare organisations, gastronomic businesses and hotels. In collaboration with our research partners, we examine research questions and develop systematic approaches. With our partners in industry, we analyze problems, develop practicable solutions and support their implementation. Our customers and partners are businesses and institutions of any size.
Research activities of the Hospitality & Service Management Competency Group
The Hospitality & Service Management Competency Group researches, develops and lectures in the context of
- support services in general
- food service
- textile supply
as a basis for
- the development of new products and services
- concepts and strategy papers
- adjustments of processes and service portfolios
- short-, middle- and long-term projects
- the implementation of digitalisation / digital transformation
Our research focus is FM in Healthcare.
Sample past projects
The Group's research interests centre around the use and operation of real estate properties, focusing exclusively on the structural design of buildings and with an emphasis on topics such as life cycle management, energy management, simulation-based building planning/usage and cost indicators. Priority is given to the issues which arise at the interface between buildings and their users/uses, and the focus is primarily on corporate and public real estate management rather than on property as an investment opportunity. Topics of research include both individual buildings and entire portfolios or districts.
Sample past projects
- Co-founder of the expert network "fmpro energy"
- Sustainable building certifications on the basis of the DGNB system introduced by the SGNI (Swiss Association for Sustainable Real Estate Management)
- Long-term consultancy contract "Energy Management University Hospital Zurich"
We provide a variety of contract-based services for public and private clients. Our lecturers, who are experienced project managers, are assisted in this task by research associates and assistants.
Our students tackle real-life problems within the framework of a thesis (project-based, BSc or MSc) completed over a fixed period of time. The professional support provided by our expert and highly experienced lecturers ensures that clients receive meaningful and actionable outcomes for the price of a set administrative fee.
The following types of student thesis are available:
- Project-based thesis (group work in the third semester): approx. 270-360 hours, between February and May; set administrative fee of CHF 3,000
- Bachelor's thesis (sixth semester): approx. 300 hours, generally between week 14 and week 45; set administrative fee of CHF 3,000
- Master's thesis (MAS) following the successful completion of five CAS courses: approx. 300 hours, start and completion date to be arranged individually; set administrative fee of CHF 4,000
We are actively involved in FM-related research and development projects at national and international level. We are one of Europe's largest centres of excellence for facility management. Our lecturers publish research papers on a regular basis and attend national and international conferences, and we also collaborate with over 200 foreign partner organisations through the ZHAW network.
Institute for Facility Management
ZHAW Life Sciences and Facility Management
Grüentalstrasse 14, PO Box
+41 (0) 58 934 50 00