With nearly a 40% share of global greenhouse gas emissions, buildings are a primary target in the pursuit of a net zero world. Net zero buildings could become the norm, in time to support a 1.5 C global warming scenario, if building owners start using the smart building technology and services available now. Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI), the global leader in smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, opens the doors of its new OpenBlue Innovation Center in Rotterdam, inviting industry leaders to experience net zero-focused building solutions in a real-time operating environment.
An interactive demo will walk visitors through the 8-step journey for old and new buildings to reach net zero, including assessment and advisory, road mapping, financing, technology upgrades, digitalization, and on-site renewable energy. The final step – using the unique, all-in-one digital dashboard in the OpenBlue Net Zero Advisor to assess carbon footprints, set targets, manage emissions, and track progress – will be especially important to businesses in the coming years. Climate disclosures are becoming mandatory in the EU, the US, and many other countries, not only for building certification and environmental reporting, but also for financial regulation.
Visitors will also experience demos and models of sustainable building technology, including heat pumps that can run on less than half the energy used in conventional heating. Heat pumps extract and amplify thermal energy from renewable sources like sea water, earth, and air, and even use the thermal waste from other heating or cooling processes. Heat pumps are energy multipliers that can run with zero emissions on clean electricity. Heat pumps could replace 80% of gas used to heat buildings, according to the IEA. They will play a significant role not only in helping buildings to reach net zero, but also in achieving energy security imperatives, and are a top priority for the EU and the US.
Although efficient individual building systems can save energy, emissions, and money, OpenBlue multiplies that savings by using sensors, edge computing, cloud connectivity and AI analytics to integrate systems and optimize entire buildings. Connecting in real-time to two Johnson Controls facilities in Rotterdam and Gorinchem, center visitors can try out OpenBlue firsthand, and see its impact in action.
Since its launch in 2020, Johnson Controls OpenBlue has earned recognition and awards, most recently at the 2023 IoT Breakthrough Awards, for transforming buildings into “intelligent business partners to reduce energy costs, improve the occupant experience, and advance net zero goals.”
Tomas Brannemo, President of Building Solutions, EMEALA, at Johnson Controls, who will give a keynote at the Rotterdam opening, says: “We are on the cusp of historic building transformation that could help the world reach net zero in time to meet the 1.5 C Paris Agreement target, if we act swiftly. We can talk all day about the impact of building technology, but seeing is believing. At the OpenBlue Innovation Center, we can peel back the bricks and mortar, and show how quickly digitalization and hyper-efficient, sustainable equipment can transform buildings from energy drains into net energy-positive assets that help businesses and wider communities decarbonize.”
The Rotterdam center is the first to open its doors in Continental Europe and the ninth to join Johnson Controls’ growing international network of OpenBlue Innovation Centers. As Johnson Controls continues to invest over 75% of R&D annually in new product innovation to solve for climate and sustainability, the center will be updated with the latest net zero innovations – making it a knowledge hub for industry leaders across Europe.
For Doekle Terpstra, Chairman at Techniek Nederland, the Netherland’s leading trade association for technical service providers and installation companies, this new facility opens up new possibilities for the local building industry: “If we wish to decarbonize, it is imperative for buildings to get smarter. Building automation and connected solutions are therefore becoming increasingly important for businesses of all sizes, in every industry. Johnson Controls’ reputation as a leader in innovation in the building technology space is well established in the Netherlands and beyond, and I could not be more excited about the opening of this Center for the members of the Techniek Nederland network. This will provide a new network for knowledge sharing, which will help us advance sustainable building transformation in the Netherlands.”