Rapid urbanization will be one of the greatest challenges we face in achieving our collective net zero targets. This global megatrend has been discussed and analysed for decades and now, as the data suggest, its acceleration needs a smarter, cleaner, and faster response- as CEO of Siemens Smart Infrastructure pointed out for Forbes.com
Last year the UN marked the 15th of November as the day the global population reached 8 billion, a 1 billion increase since 2010. The UN predicts that the next milestone will come in 2037 when the planet’s population reaches 9 billion. Urbanization is going to continue to be the defining topic underscoring the need for cleaner air, lower emissions, smarter infrastructure, and equitable spaces to live and work – as Matthias Rebellius Chief Executive Officer for Siemens Smart Infrastructure writes on Forbes.com, adding that: According to the UN, ‘cities are responsible for 75 % of global CO2 emissions, with transport and buildings being among the largest contributors.
Why do building owners still struggle to reduce CO2?
At the World Economic Forum on the panel ‘Localizing Net Zero’, Matthias Rebellius pointed out that one of the biggest hurdles to digital adoption for building owners can be the integration of existing systems and technology.
“When speaking with building owners and managers, I often hear that they have undertaken a series of incremental changes to their sites, perhaps to lighting by adding sensors or installing a new building management system for heating and cooling. Often, they talk about the struggles with legacy hardware, where individual systems operate in isolation. Without a clear baseline on usage, most building owners will struggle to make the big changes that will drive down CO2” – the expert writes.
Single-point system thinking
Auditing and managing energy and emissions in buildings should start with creating a single point of management, data collection and interpretation. With tools like Siemens’ Building X facility managers and owners can connect all the data that a smart building generates enabling the integration of a building’s existing software and third-party applications all with the strongest cyber security built in.
The expert admits this might not be the sole critical factor in reducing emissions and energy usage, but solutions like this can also provide information on maintenance schedules and occupant safety. According to Rebellius, with Building X on average, users are achieving up to 30% energy savings, 30% less maintenance and 45% less equipment downtime.
“The solution lies in whole system thinking. Only when the power coming into the building is from renewables, when the grid itself is smart, when district heating is deployed at scale and when increased load balancing storage is deployed can we start to really drive down the energy usage in our buildings and across multiple sectors” – the CEO sums up.
How we build, expand and modify buildings in these urban centres will be crucial in our fight against climate change and mass urban expansion.