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Johnson Controls, 3Degrees partner on building decarbonization

Johnson Controls (JCI) and 3Degrees will combine their expertise to tackle building decarbonizati...


Johnson Controls and 3Degrees are collaborating on a building decarbonization business partnership using the OpenBlue Net Zero Buildings software solution. (Courtesy Johnson Controls)

Johnson Controls (JCI) and 3Degrees will combine their expertise to tackle building decarbonization through energy supply services and energy efficiency delivered by a digital platform.

It will bring together Johnson Controls’ building products technologies and software knowledge with 3Degrees’ climate advisory services, renewable energy procurement and carbon credit portfolio management.

Johnson Controls is based in Cork, Ireland but was founded in Wisconsin. It has over 100,000 employees across 2,000 locations, including Canada.

Dan Svejnar, vice president of renewable services in the sustainable infrastructure organization at Johnson Controls, told SustainableBiz the partnership stemmed from a desire to leap into the sustainability market with a best-in-class partner.

Johnson Controls opted for the San Francisco-headquartered 3Degrees as a partner because of its status as the largest renewable energy certificate trading platform in North America, offering a wide breadth of products and geographic diversity.

Another factor was Johnson Controls’ CEO and chairman, who has reoriented the company toward the sustainability space.

Svejnar said Johnson Controls was already well-equipped to transition to the sustainability business because of its history in energy efficiency technology for buildings.

As for 3Degrees, it was spurred on to join the partnership because of Johnson Controls’ expertise in the behind-the-meter space, which complements its focus on front-of-the-meter solutions.

“Almost 40 per cent of total emissions come from the built environment. There is a clear need for a comprehensive solution that identifies a path forward for operators to decarbonize,” said Clay Bedwell, a senior manager of business partnerships at 3Degrees.

OpenBlue Net Zero Buildings

The partnership will deliver carbon reduction services through market-sourced renewable energy supply services and energy efficiency programs that can be supplied as a standalone offering or from Johnson Controls’ OpenBlue Net Zero Buildings platform.

OpenBlue offers advisory services and goal-setting on achieving net-zero. It also provides a digitalization of workflows to uncover data and deploys efficiency programs that document progress toward decarbonization goals.

“We can do a lot of stuff behind the meter, or in and around the building, and reaching in front through 3Degrees is a powerful tool for us,” Svejnar said.

It comes packaged with software solutions like the OpenBlue Enterprise Manager, an app designed to monitor energy use and improve energy efficiency.

Within OpenBlue Enterprise Manager is the Net Zero Advisor platform, which extracts data from buildings to track the decarbonization journey and their carbon footprint.

Clients of the service include the Humber River Hospital in Toronto, Colorado State University – Pueblo and the Al Shera’a building in the United Arab Emirates.

OpenBlue’s decarbonization program

It is also a conduit for an eight-step building decarbonization strategy adopted by Johnson Controls.

As part of the first two steps, the companies will use 3Degrees to set up a framework and roadmap to decarbonization. 3Degrees will benchmark their clients’ decarbonization goals against a peer set sourced from a database of buildings like grocery stores and schools.

The program can move to steps three, four and five involving Johnson Controls’ decarbonization process through digitizing building infrastructure. It allows Johnson Controls to draw upon datasets to drive insights on decarbonization and energy efficiency measures.

Step six is advancing distributed energy resources. This is achieved by deploying on-site energy resources solutions like solar, energy storage and fuel cells to generate electricity and build resiliency.

Step seven revolves around renewable energy supply services. Johnson Controls offers building owners the solutions to decarbonize by going to the electric and carbon markets to offset the carbon footprint. 3Degrees can deliver decarbonization options like delinking the building from gas pipes and offsetting carbon emissions with a variety of solutions.

Bedwell offered the example of Verisk, a data analytics firm. It approached 3Degrees to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which 3Degrees achieved through renewable energy certificates and carbon credits.

3Degrees conducted an analysis to look at viable energy procurement options in the market to identify the best options on a market-by-market basis, which resulted in a portfolio approach to procurement across Verisk’s business.

The final step is receiving certifications and building a governance framework to document progress.

Digitizing decarbonization

Svejnar and Bedwell argue that as companies mature on the digital transformation of their businesses, performance and resiliency are becoming increasingly intertwined.

“As digitization and sustainability both become strategic priorities, I think (we’re) starting to see these two topics dovetail,” Bedwell said. “It’s only going toward a more integrated future. More robust data and IoT (Internet of Things) is just an example of the intersection of digitization and sustainability.”

The combination will drive faster and better insights for more strategic decisions about decarbonization, he added.

Decarbonization and resiliency are becoming more interconnected and used in the same sentence, Svejnar said, pointing to the adoption of attaching sensors to building-related products to optimize for cost and carbon.

One example of this type of technology is being employed by Nanoprecise Sci Corp, a predictive maintenance company. Nanoprecise’s NrgMonitor attaches IoT sensors on industrial motor-driven equipment sets to track energy consumption and associated GHG emissions to uncover inefficiency.

All of these types of technologies are being utilized more often, and Svejnar predicts more growth.

He praised the recently adopted U.S. Inflation Reduction Act as having a positive influence on both utilities and residential-level businesses. It commits billions to combatting climate change.

“It will proliferate the deployment of renewable energy services which Johnson Controls is really trying to heavily bring to its customers, and I think it will also by virtue of that, drive the need for connectivity of all these assets.”

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