Drinking Our Own Champagne on Carbon Neutrality

Applying ABB technologies and methodologies to our own operations is invaluable for improving our service to customers, while keeping ABB on track to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

Applying ABB technologies and methodologies to our own operations is an invaluable way of improving our service to customers, while keeping the company on track to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030, says Oliver Iltisberger, Division President, ABB Smart Buildings.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be excited to cut the ribbon on the latest wave of carbon-neutral ABB sites, the latest step in Mission to Zero®, part of our collective journey towards carbon neutrality by 2030.

With our 2030 sustainability strategy, we are actively enabling a low-carbon society by working with customers and suppliers to implement sustainable practices across our value chain and the lifecycle of our products and solutions.

Like many organizations, we have embraced the opportunity to improve the way we work, and have taken the decision to ‘drink our own champagne’: in other words, to experience what our customers experience, the way they experience it. This has proven to be very enlightening, for many reasons.

Leading by example

Challenged with working with legacy systems and mindsets, many companies require a partner that can deliver a ‘one-stop shop’ of solutions covering digitization, consultancy and funding, everything from internal process improvement to transforming internal culture to adapt to new technology.

ABB’s blueprint of sustainable, modular solutions is designed for easy, fast roll-out, and can be fully tailored to each of our customer’s individual needs, making their shift to sustainable energy a reality.

However, rather than simply advising our clients how to achieve carbon neutrality, ABB is leading by example by rolling out one of the most comprehensive programs in its history, aimed at getting all site employees in more than 100 countries to reduce emissions using our own technology.

Why? Because we believe the most impactful way to move people from denial and apathy to action is by telling powerful success stories from our own operations. We must drink our own champagne.

Smart move: ABB’s decarbonization program

The concept of smart buildings is not new; what is new are web-based platforms that allow internal building systems to integrate seamlessly with each other, delivering a single view of how efficiently and effectively a building operates.

Armed with this data, managers are able to make informed decisions that avoid waste and improve energy use. As a result, ABB has more than halved its CO2 emissions since 2014, improved building occupants’ comfort, safety and productivity – an important factor in both attracting and retaining talent – and realizing substantial energy cost savings.

As importantly, the program has made us more customer-centric, teaching us new ways of empathizing with clients when it comes to change and transformation, and giving us renewed confidence in our solutions and our people.

Building a value proposition around smart building (and other) technologies and sustainable working and living, while stress-testing and evolving those solutions based on user behavior and feedback, has helped us enormously. Our global objective is centered on developing scalable, replicable solutions, committing to partners and solutions in the value chain that fit within our Code of Conduct, and building the stability and resilience of our business.

Keeping our industry-leading research and development investments high, our people and our innovative solutions challenged, and taking the guesswork out of planning and decision-making will also ensure we continue to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations with the highest quality and creativity.

People power

This initiative has been an eye-opening experience for all of ABB, and I would like to pay tribute to the hard work our teams have put in to run these solutions exactly as our customers would.

After all, nothing beats walking a mile in the shoes of your customer, and the lessons learned, both good and bad, will benefit all organizations that invest in the built environment around the world.

As world leaders, businesses and NGOs gather in Glasgow for COP26, the onus is on all businesses to use their expertise to help fight climate change. In addition to achieving net zero by 2030, ABB aims to reduce our customers’ annual emissions by 100 megatons – equivalent to the annual emissions from 30 million combustion cars – as well as significantly increase circularity across our supply chain.  

We drink our own champagne because at ABB, our priority has always been to develop technology that is ground-breaking, easy and reliable to use, and helps to change the world for the better.  

I for one, am proud to raise a toast to that.

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About the author

Oliver Iltisberger

Oliver Iltisberger is President of ABB’s Smart Buildings division. He was appointed to this role in July 2018. In this position he has full accountability for the performance of the Smart Buildings business line in ABB, which includes a broad portfolio of market leading home and building automation solutions. Previously, as Executive Vice President and member of the Executive Committee, Oliver led the Asia Pacific and then the Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) region of Landis+Gyr, a publicly listed global leader for smart metering and smart grid solutions. In 2010 he became one of the founding members and the first President of the IDIS Smart Meter Association. Earlier in his career, Oliver worked in the automation & drives division of Siemens, heading sales, product management and marketing functions within the low voltage Power Distribution business. During his career, Oliver has lived and worked in Germany, South Africa, Singapore, Australia and Switzerland. Oliver has a joint master’s degree in mechanical engineering and business administration from the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, and executive training at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business.
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