Tackling climate change and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 has gained significant importance among nations like never before and has become one of the most critical and urgent missions worldwide. According to IEA and UNEP, buildings and the construction industry are significant contributors to climate change, with 35% of the global final energy consumption and nearly 40% of the global energy-related direct and indirect carbon emissions. Although some of the older building stock in many nations are seen as a symbol of cultural diversity and resemble the history of the nation, they are energy inefficient and require deep energy renovation at a faster rate. For instance, according to European Commission, Europe’s 220 million building units, representing 85% of the European Union’s building stock, were built before 2001 and are expected to be standing in 2050. Similarly, the World Green Building Council estimates the global building stock to double by 2050 to reach 415 billion square meters and urges a 3% year-on-year energy renovation rate of current global building stock to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The pandemic has temporarily reduced the emissions, but the CO2 levels are still rising and require collaborative, consistent, and tangible climate actions to reach the target. The pandemic has provided a unique and unexpected opportunity to tackle climate change along with the economic recovery and has forced the global nations to set aside one-third of the COVID-19 economic recovery package for investments in digitalization, climate neutrality, and clean energy transition. Smart buildings are proving to be an intelligent, energy-efficient, and pragmatic solution for future deep energy renovation projects to drive operational efficiency and minimize costs. The pandemic acted as a tipping point for accelerated deployment of intelligent building technologies, but its capabilities are not yet fully realized by the end customers due to key challenges related to lack of data gathering, interoperability, data privacy, and security.

The pandemic recovery package announced by the major economies in the APAC, the US, and Europe together amounts to roughly $8 trillion targeted to accelerate investments in healthcare, infrastructure, digitalization, and climate change. Some major developed nations have committed to spending nearly one-third of the recovery package to tackle climate change, digitalization, and clean energy transition in all sectors, including buildings, for the next 8 to 10 years. Leading, deeply entrenched global building technology participants and emerging companies are striving to capture the market opportunity that would open up based on the investments mentioned above. Frost & Sullivan estimates the total addressable market opportunity for digital building solutions to surpass $136 billion by 2025.

ABB is a technology leader driving digital transformation in industries is well poised and strongly positioned to capture a significant portion of the digital building solutions opportunity through its Smart Buildings portfolio, that are powered by IoT sensor network and AI/ML capabilities. The company’s ABB AbilityTM is a comprehensive data-driven platform serving customers horizontally in the buildings, homes, utilities, industry, transport, and infrastructure segments with more than 180 digital solutions and services. ABB’s suite of smart building solutions, including ABB-free@home® and ABB i-bus® KNX, offers best-in-class comfort, security, and energy efficiency for customers in residential and commercial buildings. These solutions provide automation and control capabilities for blinds, HVAC, lighting, security, and door access communication, creating a safe and comfortable environment for building occupants.

ABB yet again proved to be a visionary company through the strategic acquisition of Cylon Controls in March 2020, just before the pandemic, which paved the way for accelerated deployments of intelligent building technologies in commercial and industrial buildings. ABB was well aware of the key functional challenges faced by customers and offered a vendor-agnostic, scalable, and flexible energy management platform, ABB Cylon® Active Energy, that enabled building and facility operators to achieve 20% to 25% of energy savings, and in some cases, up to 40%. These savings justify the initial investments and enable customers to attain payback in a short time. HSBC, in one of its independent surveys, mentioned that if a smart system delivered an energy cost saving of 25% on an installation cost of $37,500 for a 50,000 square foot building, the annual savings could be as much as $23,000, giving a payback period of fewer than two years. The interoperability functionality of ABB Cylon® Active Energy is another key differentiator among its competitors that enables the system to adapt to a building’s specific needs and works with any pre-existing legacy automation, building energy management, and metering systems. ABB enhances building intelligence through robust data gathering abilities, advanced data analytics, single dashboard visualization, and intuitive digital interface capabilities.

ABB’s acquisition of Cylon Controls and its strategic engagement with BrainBox AI marks a crucial step for ABB in enhancing its existing portfolio of smart buildings and empowering the company to fast-track the journey of digital transformation act towards climate change and carbon neutrality. ABB Cylon® Active Energy is one of the key components of ‘ABB AbilityTM Building Ecosystem’ (BE), powered by openBOS. It is a part of the company’s broader concept of ‘Mission to Zero.’

ABB’s state-of-the-art carbon neutral and energy self-sufficient Ludenscheid factory in Germany showcases the success of sustainable energy transition with digital energy management. The factory integrates a range of technologies, including 1100MWh of solar photovoltaic system, OPTIMAX energy management system from ABB AbilityTM Energy Management Suite, a 275 kWh capacity battery energy storage system, and 44 electric vehicle charging points into a single intelligent system that is controllable and digitally networked. The flagship site, saving up to 680 tonnes of CO2 every year, is a perfect example of a ‘factory of the future’ that showcases the necessary elements required to tackle climate change and achieve carbon neutrality.

ABB’s unparalleled domain knowledge in developing industry-leading automation solutions along with the accelerated deployments of digital building solutions during the pandemic has empowered the company to strengthen its smart buildings portfolio. The company’s recent strategic inorganic activities have placed the company in a prime position to compete hard with deeply entrenched building technology players and capture a significant portion of the digital building solutions market. The company’s sustainable energy transition mission to achieve carbon neutrality through its innovative digital energy management capabilities has enabled Frost & Sullivan to award ABB with the 2021 global intelligent buildings product leadership award.

About Anirudh Bhaskaran

Anirudh Bhaskaran is a Senior Industry Analyst with Frost & Sullivan’s Energy & Environment practice. He has 9 years of industry research and consulting experience in the buildings & smart infrastructure industry. Some of his key focus areas include building energy management, smart and connected homes, intelligent buildings and digital construction management. He has profound understanding of the digital and transformational technologies such as AI, IoT, data analytics, cloud, edge, and its impact on the buildings & smart infrastructure industry.

Anirudh Bhaskaran

Anirudh Bhaskaran is a Senior Industry Analyst with Frost & Sullivan’s Energy & Environment practice. He has 9 years of industry research and consulting experience in the buildings & smart infrastructure industry. Some of his key focus areas include building energy management, smart and connected homes, intelligent buildings and digital construction management. He has profound understanding of the digital and transformational technologies such as AI, IoT, data analytics, cloud, edge, and its impact on the buildings & smart infrastructure industry.

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