Johnson Controls is providing a smarter way to build

Johnson Controls is providing a smarter way to build

Firm helped Microsoft to meet sustainability goals by reducing the carbon emissions of its Beijing campus 

Elly Yates-Roberts |

Anticipating the United Nations Climate Change Conference – also known as COP26 – in late 2021, China adjusted its environmental sustainability plans to peak its emissions before 2030.

In addition, the country committed to reduce its carbon intensity – which measures emissions per unit of gross domestic product – by 65 per cent by 2030, according to the plan submitted to the United Nations.  

To play its part in helping China to realise these targets, Microsoft collaborated with Johnson Controls – a provider of solutions to create smarter and more sustainable buildings – to retrofit and enhance its Beijing Campus. The partnership builds on Microsoft’s recognition of Johnson Controls as a ‘Global Sustainability Changemaker’ during its 2022 Partner of the Year Awards for boosting sustainability in buildings, improving environmental, social and governance scores, and enabling data-driven decision-making by customers. 

“Optimising a building's systems requires the retrieval of quality data from a number of different sources – analogue, digital and physical – often in real time, which can require a comprehensive internet of things (IoT) deployment,” said Vijay Sankaran, vice president and chief technology officer at Johnson Controls. “Microsoft has recognised our work in this field as much of the data being harvested by the IoT systems we're deploying for customers is channelled into artificial intelligence (AI) engines running on Microsoft Azure.” 

A key part of reducing the carbon emissions of the campus – which comprises two buildings with a total area of 148,000 square metres – was to enable energy-efficient operations management. To do this, the Microsoft real estate and facilities team migrated the applications and data storage of systems involved in power supply, building controls, energy management and smart management to Azure platform, creating a central ‘digital brain’ for the campus. This was then combined with Johnson Controls’ OpenBlue Enterprise Manager (OBEM) – which leverages AI – to create a more efficient building management system, improve user experience and significantly reduce the energy consumption of daily operations. 

The ongoing retrofitting of the campus and the optimisation of building operations has resulted in 27.9 per cent energy savings. As a result, the campus has been granted an energy-saving endorsement and financial subsidy by the Beijing Municipal Government and the Haidian District Government. 

“China’s pledge to ensure carbon emissions peak by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 places a huge responsibility on its buildings sector to dive deeply into the latest sustainable engineering technology,” said Anu Rathninde, president of Asia Pacific at Johnson Controls. “In this project, we joined hands with Microsoft to raise the bar on what is possible for energy-efficient buildings, and its faith in Johnson Controls AI-enabled OpenBlue Net Zero Buildings solution has been proven out. The energy and emissions savings on the Beijing Campus project help Microsoft and us to highlight what is now possible sustainability-wise for retrofit buildings programmes in China.” 

The Microsoft campus also uses Johnson Controls Metasys Building Automation System (BAS), a solution which connects heating, ventilation and air conditioning with lighting, security and fire protection systems on a single platform to provide better data visibility and inform decision-making. 

In monitoring the campus’s cooling and heating equipment, Metasys directs large amounts of data into OBEM for analysis. During Johnson Controls’ retrofit of the campus, it upgraded Metasys and integrated it with the campus’s legacy BAS. With more sub-systems connected into Metasys, Microsoft was able to reduce field operations risk and improve workplace comfort for employees.  

The implemented solutions have also increased equipment uptime at the Microsoft Beijing Campus by more than 98 per cent and have improved the level of operational automation. The improvements add to the sustainability work that Johnson Controls has been supporting Microsoft Beijing Campus with since 2010. The earlier collaboration saw the campus reduce its power consumption by more than 30 million kilowatt-hours between 2011 and 2020.

This long-term project with Microsoft adds to a growing portfolio of projects that demonstrate the potential of the Johnson Control OpenBlue platform to cost-effectively use advanced technology to reduce emissions. 

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2022 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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