Decarbonising buildings critical to achieve net zero

Johnson Controls chair sees private sector increasingly coming on board to boost sustainability goals

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Somshankar Bandyopadhyay

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Johnson Controls chairman and CEO George Oliver. — Supplied photo
Johnson Controls chairman and CEO George Oliver. — Supplied photo

Published: Mon 4 Dec 2023, 6:37 PM

Last updated: Mon 4 Dec 2023, 8:01 PM

With buildings representing some 40 per cent of global emissions , decarbonising the built environment is one of the fastest paths to meeting net zero targets globally, and essential for many businesses with 2030 carbon reduction goals, a study by Johnson Controls has shown.

“For leaders looking to quickly advance their net zero journey and make a real impact on global carbon reduction, buildings are the key enabler,” said Johnson Controls chairman and CEO George Oliver. “Our whole approach is not only the electrification of the equipment, but then also deploying that with digital capabilities, the use of data, that then gives us an opportunity to take the built environment upgraded, consume all of the data and fundamentally change how the building operates. We can up to 50 per cent reduction in energy consumption this way,” he told Khaleej Times in an interview on the sidelines of the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

With a history dating back to 1885, Johnson Controls has evolved into a leader in intelligent buildings, efficient energy solutions, and integrated infrastructure. The company’s building technologies & solutions segment offers systems for controlling heating, ventilation, air conditioning, security, and fire management.

Committed to sustainability, Johnson Controls actively promotes eco-friendly practices and solutions. Their focus on innovation, technological prowess, and dedication to environmental responsibility has solidified their position as a prominent player in the global technology and industrial landscape.

The company entered the UAE in 1975, and its business in the Middle East is now valued at around $1 billion, Oliver said. “It’s a business that we have been growing significantly and is making sure that not only do we have the appropriate technology for the applications here with the products, but understanding the applications,” he added.

At an event at the Museum of the Future last week, the company signed some major agreements. Etihad Energy Services Company partnered with Johnson Controls to provide energy-efficient and sustainable solutions to Dubai Police. Leading real estate developer Al Fattan Properties in Dubai has awarded Johnson Controls a 10-year cooling as a service agreement. The Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority has been registered as a Johnson Controls OpenBlue Pioneer, and has received the ‘Blueprint of the Future’ award, which recognises outstanding models of visionary thinking and digital transformation.

In its decarbonisation journey, Johnson Controls has been working with both public and private sector. “We are trying to understand supporting their journey to get to net zero, and emphasising that you don’t get to net zero without addressing the buildings and the infrastructure,” Oliver added.

There is an increased awareness among the global community about the urgency to address climate change, Oliver said. “I think what I see happening over the last three years, Glasgow, Sharm El Sheikh and now Dubai, is that we have moved on from just the public commitment to a significant increase from the private sector, in line with the commitments that have been made to be able to get to net zero,” Oliver said. “It begins to get more focus on efficient use of capital, that ultimately gets deployed to make sure that we’re achieving what we think is possible to be able to solve the problem,” he added.

There is also increased focus on the part of the private sector to act on climate change, Oliver noted. “As far as climate change is concerned, the prediction of the cost of not solving the problem is going to be far greater than what it’s going to take to solve the problem. And so I think there’s a true recognition of that and companies are realising that in their business, if they don’t incorporate decarbonisation and sustainability as core strategy and future economics, depending on what their business model is, they’re going to be left behind,” Oliver said.


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