Johnson Controls opens Dutch innovation centre

  • March 28, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson
Rotterdam innovation centre opening ceremony with Richard Lek, vice president at Johnson Controls, Eamonn Hughes, general manager for OpenBlue, Doekle Terpstra, chairman of Techniek Nederland, and Daniela Pandrea, general manager at Johnson Controls.

Johnson Controls last week opened an OpenBlue innovation centre in Rotterdam, inviting public and industry leaders in Europe to see how to make buildings fit for net zero.

An interactive demo walks visitors through an eight-step journey for old and new buildings to reach net zero, from assessment, road mapping and financing to technology and digitalisation, to on-site renewable energy and digital emissions management.

With nearly a 40% share of global greenhouse gas emissions, buildings are a primary target in the pursuit of net zero. Net-zero buildings could become the norm, in time to support a 1.5˚C global warming scenario, if building owners start using the available smart building technology and services.

The final step of the interactive demo uses the all-in-one digital dashboard in the OpenBlue Net Zero Advisor to assess carbon footprints, set targets, manage emissions and track progress. This could be especially important to businesses in the coming years. Climate disclosures are becoming mandatory in the EU, USA 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 such as 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 International Energy Agency (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 USA.

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 optimise entire buildings. Connecting in real time to two Johnson Controls facilities in Rotterdam and Gorinchem, centre visitors can try out OpenBlue first hand, and see its impact in action.

Since its launch in 2020, OpenBlue has earned recognition and awards for transforming buildings.

“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,” said Tomas Brannemo, president of building technology at Johnson Controls. “We can talk all day about the impact of building technology, but seeing is believing. At the OpenBlue innovation centre, we can peel back the bricks and mortar, and show how quickly digitalisation and hyper-efficient, sustainable equipment can transform buildings from energy drains into net energy-positive assets that help businesses and wider communities decarbonise.”

The Rotterdam centre is the first to open its doors in Continental Europe and the ninth to join Johnson Controls’ growing international network of OpenBlue innovation centres.

As Johnson Controls invests over 75% of R&D annually in new product innovation for climate and sustainability, the centre will be updated with the latest net zero technology.

For Doekle Terpstra, chairman at Techniek Nederland, a Dutch trade association for technical service providers and installation companies, this facility opens up new possibilities for the local building industry.

“If we wish to decarbonise, it is imperative for buildings to get smarter,” said Terpstra. “Building automation and connections 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 centre 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.”