Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
Action, Digitalization and the Opportunity to Reenergize the Buildings
Climate laws and agreements are being enacted, and big building technology companies like Siemens are positioning to come out heroes with even healthier businesses.
has been an eventful few weeks for Climate Action watchers. From
tree-huggers to eager capitalists, there are a lot of people happy to
see moves that will curtail fossil fuel burning. California signed SB32
into law which commits the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions
40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. A critical mass of countries formally committed
to the Paris climate agreement at the UN general assembly in New
York. (India may sign this week). And voters in the USA pressed
presidential candidates to detail their positions on the issue of Clean
Amory Lovins, Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute, holds that climate protection can be profitable. But, for which countries, regions and companies, and in what time frames? There will be winners and losers along the way as these laws and agreements are translated into actions. Certainly today’s biggest building technology companies want to be among the winners.
Lovins spoke at VERGE 16 in Santa Clara, CA, on Sept 20th. On stage with him was Rainer Baake, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Baake reported that Germany is on the right trajectory to meet its target of cutting carbon emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050. A theme of the plenary session was that, if you want to see tomorrow's clean energy system, look at Germany today. Complementing Secretary Baake’s presence at VERGE 16 were break-out sessions featuring Siemens Building Technologies (BT) Division. Their message was ‘If you want to see what BEMS (building energy management systems) will look like tomorrow, look at what Siemens is doing today.’
Like Germany, San Francisco has a target of reducing CO₂ emissions by 80% by 2050 (against a 1990 baseline). The city collaborated with Siemens on a holistic study released during the conference that applied its City Performance Tool (CyPT). The analysis included recommendations on how to allocate resources toward energy efficient buildings, clean energy, and a multi-modal transport network. Cities and utilities that want to scale building efficiency programs fast look to partner with companies that have a breadth of businesses, the financial resources and the long-standing customer relationships of a Siemens. As shown in the CyPT graphic below, the company has product and service offerings to fill in almost every box in the box-chart.
A growing business inside Siemens BT is the Building
Performance and Sustainability Group, serving Infrastructure and City
customers. Director of Energy & Sustainability Solutions Ari Kobb led a session on Siemens Energy
Data Management services. He noted that Siemens has been moving
customers to 'digitalization' on both the demand-side and supply-side
of the energy equation for years. His group is now able to quickly
bring that digital information together as data services. Of course,
today there are numerous big industrial companies and IT companies
striving to compete for the same enterprise data management business.
With competition among the giants fierce, the pressure is on to deliver
easy access to data, positive user experience and reduced complexity.
The big building equipment OEMs now have extensive experience working
with the data streamed from each others’ systems, neutralizing protocol
lock-in and making the practice more and more a thing of the past.
Siemens is also learning from its customers in these large-scale
enterprise engagements. Another Siemens BT Managing Director, Kimberly
Brisley, presented on her work with a life sciences company. Leaders
from tightly-regulated process industries like this customer have data
science at the core of their culture. They have goals and suggestions
for new ways to derive value from energy and building operational data.
Siemens is helping them achieve these, and then taking back the
learning, translating it into new digital solutions to add to its
While the sensing, software and networking technologies
needed to build the digital solutions listed by Siemens in the San
Francisco City Performance study have all been generally available for
years, the business models, real estate practices and laws have not
encouraged fast adoption. It’s notable that researchers for this
analysis found 0% of buildings doing monitoring, only 4% doing
performance optimization, and 0% doing remote monitoring. In other
words, the market for such building data services is truly in its
Among building types, retail stores have been early adopters of Remote
The Siemens VERGE expo featured demonstrations of its
Site Controls Energy Management System (EMS) led by Carl Anello,
National Accounts Director, and Aaron Moore, National Accounts
Executive, of the Retail Group. EMS reduces energy usage
at stores by monitoring and/or controlling key energy-consuming devices
such as HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) units, indoor
lighting, store signage, indoor and outdoor temperature sensors, and
refrigeration units. The EMS also monitors energy output and
performance of on-site solar panels. A cloud-based data analytics
platform provides dashboards, KPIs and outlier reporting to quickly
pinpoint and resolve issues that would otherwise drive excessive
consumption or negatively impact customer comfort.
Siemens itself has committed to being Carbon Neutral as a company by 2030, and is preparing to lead in distributed energy products and services. For all these reasons, it is in a unique position to support customers as they take steps toward greater energy efficiency, resilience and eventually energy independence by running their buildings as microgrids. It is going to take such global powerhouse companies scaling energy efficiency at a fast pace, if the world is to meet recently legislated Climate Action goals.
big companies are defining their terrain in this new era of Climate
Action like snow grooming machines on a ski slope in a blizzard.
But, they are leaving plenty of space for innovative start-ups to roll
their own snowballs through this landscape to amass a growing business
of their own. ...I’m sure that metaphor came from me hoping that
Northern California will get sufficient snow in the winter again, once
we start taking action to reduce the earth’s GHG blanket.
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