Sustainability assessment


Sustainability in farming and value chains

  • Description and assessment of the sustainability of farm holdings and agricultural value chains
  • Advisory service for individual farm holdings, projects and enterprises working on the development and practical application of sustainable agriculture.
RISE-Mitarbeiter übergibt Landwirten Analyse


Prof. Dr Jan Grenz, Team Leader, Lecturer in Sustainability

Laura Jakobeit, RISE business coordinator

Daria Reisch, Research Scientist

Dr Christian Thalmann, Research Scientist

Rebekka WyssResearch Scientist


Current Projects

RISE – Sustainability assessment in farming

RISE is a model that allows for the assessment of the sustainability of agricultural production at farm level. It takes a holistic approach, embracing ecological, economic and social aspects. RISE is more than just a theoretical model – the tailor-made software is a versatile tool for practitioners. The model is mostly used by third parties and is subject to a license fee. For reasons of quality assurance in the entire process, the RISE team trains external users. RISE has already been applied to several thousand farms on every continent.

Project management: Jan Grenz

Further information

Artikle in InfoHAFL No. 1/2013 (pdf)


Sustainability assessment in farming and food systems

Biomass can be used to produce fuels and plastics, thus offering a renewable and local alternative to petroleum. But these uses also have their risks. In Germany for example the biogas boom has resulted in whole landscapes being used for maize production. A HAFL research team is therefore developing a method to assess the human, environmental and economic impacts of the production and use of biomass-based fuels and plastics, and to weigh up potential risks. The method allows for sustainability assessments to be conducted, and for the optimisation of biomass-based value chains. It considers all processes from the standing crop to the chemical industry and waste management. The aim is for the method to contribute to an improved basis for decision-making in research, in companies and in the political sphere.

Project management: Jan Grenz

Further information


Building materials from coconut husks

The Philippines have an estimated deficit of several million housing units. The poorest segments of the Philippine population are most strongly affected by the housing shortage as they lack the funds to purchase building materials. At the same time the Philippine coconut industry generates almost five million tons of coconut husks every year. HAFL sustainability specialists and researchers at the Architecture, Wood and Civil Engineering Faculty of the Bern University of Applied Sciences are jointly developing affordable and sustainable solutions for the production of innovative wood fibre boards (for construction and insulation) made from coconut husks.

Project management at HAFL: Jan Grenz


Sustainable building materials made from agricultural by-products in developing and newly industrialised countries

In a joint project between HAFL and the Architecture, Wood and Civil Engineering Faculty of the Bern University of Applied Science researchers are developing a tool for assessing the sustainability of building materials made from agricultural by-products, considering the entire life-cycle of production, use and disposal. The researchers take into consideration economic, ecological and social criteria and draw comparisons to conventional building materials used in developing and newly industrialised countries. The first case study assesses boards made from peanut shells.

Project management at HAFL: Jan Grenz


Productivity and biodiversity 

Together with the Department of Conservation Biology at the University of Bern, HAFL is working on a project entitled ‘The integration of agricultural production and biodiversity promotion in agricultural landscapes’ to shed new light on the relationship between agricultural production and biodiversity at landscape level. The aim is to describe optimal land-use strategies for production and biodiversity, and to optimise measures for promoting biodiversity. The project is being conducted by Silvia Zingg for her doctoral thesis. 

Project management: Silvia Zingg

SAFA: Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems

HAFL is involved in a project run by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations which aims to develop guidelines for food value chain analysis. These are primarily to serve as a template for food chain sustainability assessments to be conducted by food producers and retailers.

Project management: Jan Grenz

Further information


Prof. Dr Jan Grenz


Phone +41 (0)31 910 21 99