Three major projects involving digitalization as the enabler, show that the region’s concerted environmental conservation efforts are rolling full steam ahead.

Energy efficiency continues to be the low-hanging fruit for decarbonization in the built environment sector. The pandemic has disrupted the commercial property sector and underscored the need for better indoor air quality, greater energy efficiency and better use of sustainable energy — resulting in a greater need for retrofits.

This is a window of opportunity to build back better. To defray some upfront capital costs, companies can tap into green incentives and loans available by the government and banks. With these enablers fueling the regional push to build smarter cities and healthier, more sustainable architecture, three landmark partnerships in the Asia Pacific region (APAC) have been struck.

These partnerships hinge on digital technology to meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals as well as net zero carbon commitments, and involve contributions from Johnson Controls.

Three showcases of energy efficiency

The first project involves the digitalization of building systems for Standard Chartered Bank at multiple sites across the region using a cloud-based solution that identifies and resolves energy and operational inefficiencies. The successful pilot saw 7% in annual energy savings. To date, more than 20 of the bank’s office sites have adopted the solution, and this will eventually cover more than 90 buildings across APAC. This effort is part of the bank’s commitment to net-zero carbon emissions from its own operations by 2030.

The second project involves the Rose Theater in Japan. Located at the foot of Mount Fuji, the theater has been retrofitted to adopt ‘energy performance contracting’ to improve its energy and operational efficiency after over 25 years of operations. A 15-year energy performance contract includes an Air Handling Unit (AHU) inverter and its overhaul, a carbon dioxide monitoring system for inverter control and various efficient heating systems. This has made the indoor theatre more comfortable, while facility management for the various amenities has been made more efficient. With this retrofit, the Rose Theater will be able to reduce energy consumption by 39% and carbon dioxide emissions by 42%, while shaving 40% off energy costs. The entire retrofit was completed ahead of time so the theater could reopen earlier than planned.

The final project involves the application of geothermal heat pumps in Beijing Municipal Administrative Center, China. The aim was to build an efficient, intelligent and reliable large-scale district heating and cooling system. In a single heating season of four months, the heat pump system could replace 12 million cubic meters of natural gas consumption, equivalent to savings of 15,000 tons of standard coal, 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide emission reduction, and 100,000 additional trees planted around the energy station. The solution comprises four ground-source heat pump systems installed in one of the energy stations, providing efficient central heating and cooling for the administrative offices (total building area of about 960,000 square meters) using geothermal energy.

Net Zero by 2050 or earlier

To achieve a net zero carbon footprint, digitalization is a key enabler. Johnson Controls has shown in the aforementioned projects that it can guide customers at different stages of their digitalization journey to deliver on net-zero outcome and risk management goals.

For example, getting equipment connected to the cloud with analytics for optimization is part of its ongoing OpenBlue service and solutions offering. The company is also working with the largest developers and most forward-looking educational institutions in the region to figure out pathways towards autonomous buildings through digital twins and artificial intelligence.

According to Katie McGinty, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Office (Government and Regulatory Affairs), Johnson Controls: “The need and demand for a 360-degree net zero carbon solution is clear. Businesses, governments and global coalitions have all set ambitious sustainability goals over the next two decades, with many aspiring for decarbonization by 2030. Our fully open architecture platform can drive 50% and more in energy efficiency improvement and corresponding carbon emissions. We know that decarbonization of buildings is part of the solution as buildings represent some 40% of global emissions.”

The Rose Theater in Japan has been retrofitted to reduce energy consumption by 39%, carbon dioxide emissions by 42%, while shaving 40% off energy costs.