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How Smart Buildings Are Contributing to Canada’s Path to Net Zero

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Ali Dika

Product Director of Smart Power & Smart Buildings, ABB Canada

Technology leader ABB supports industry and customers’ sustainability journeys through digital smart solutions that contribute to a resource-efficient future.

Canada’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 is a matter of national pride, and the pathway to this achievement is already being travelled diligently by the many stakeholders needed to support the initiative, from individuals to businesses and government. As we transition to a cleaner economy to fight climate change, it will take our combined efforts to be the change we wish to see in the world.


Smart buildings are one of the areas contributing to Canada’s net-zero plan, and ABB in Canada is setting the pace on the road to carbon neutral. The leading global technology company is energizing the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future.

Understanding the challenge

Canada’s per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are exceptionally high due to a combination of factors including our harsh climate, expansive country and relatively small population, continual economic and population growth, resource-rich economy, and more. The majority of these GHG emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels to make energy, which includes heat and electricity, a large portion of which go toward keeping our country’s over 15 million residential buildings and over half a million commercial and institutional buildings (including offices, retail, and warehouses) running safely and comfortably. According to the Government of Canada, Canada’s homes and buildings account for 13 per cent of national GHG emissions thanks to the combustion of fossil fuels for space and water heating, or 18 per cent if you include the electricity used for cooling, lighting, and appliances.

Giving buildings more efficient functionality

There’s no question, then, that Canada’s building sector contributes to GHG emissions. “With all the systems in today’s buildings, from lighting and heating to ventilation, cooling, and appliances, they simply use a ton of energy — energy that we could and should manage more efficiently and intelligently,” says Ali Dika, Product Director of Smart Power and Smart Buildings at ABB Canada. “Fortunately, this high energy consumption, which leads to higher carbon emissions, can be tackled with engineering solutions that grant the buildings more harmonized and efficient functionality.”

One of ABB’s specialties is exactly this — making buildings “smart” with intelligent building technologies through smart lighting, air-conditioning, heating control, and electrical distribution systems. These infrastructure solutions allow for building automation systems to provide an exponential increase in energy efficiency in addition to more
 safety and comfort for building tenants.

Introducing ABB Ability™ Building Solutions

ABB Ability™ Building Solutions is the technology driving ABB’s work of making buildings smart. “Coupled with a digitally enabled hardware infrastructure, ABB Ability™ is our cloud-based software solution that allows the connection of electrical and mechanical infrastructure to the digital world,” says Dika.

With ABB Ability™, clients looking to meet their sustainability goals will have everything they need at their fingertips to optimize their building’s performance, from holistic monitoring and data analysis to remote access to infrastructure. Through optimizing the electrical and mechanical infrastructure, identifying potential improvement opportunities for energy savings and emissions reduction, providing predictive maintenance alerts to reduce maintenance costs, decarbonizing buildings by connecting all data and enabling commands and schedules, and using AI technologies to autonomously control buildings, ABB Ability™ offers the simplest way to a smart building. This improves energy efficiency, helps companies reduce their operational expenses by as much as 45 per cent, and prevents waste by planning downtime better. 

Cost, energy, time savings, and increased comfort 

“At ABB, we imagine a future of smart cities and our technology empowers individuals to live, work, and move in a safer, smarter, and more sustainable way,” says Dika. Last year, IKEA relied on ABB’s solutions to increase the energy efficiency of their HVAC system across a number of facilities in Spain, adding up to 80,000 square metres. The results of this partnership is an estimated 25 per cent increase in the energy efficiency of the HVAC system, which equals out to an annual reduction of around 425 tons of CO2 emissions. 

Dika uses the example of a landline telephone compared to a modern smart phone to highlight the difference of a traditional building versus a smart one. But unlike a landline telephone, which can’t transform into a smart phone, any building can become smart thanks to the ABB digitally enabled hardware and ABB Ability™ solution. “This technology can be used everywhere, from factories to residential homes to condominium towers and beyond. It’s such a flexible piece of software, and there are fascinating examples in every sector, for example food and beverage, data centres, and telecommunications,” says Dika.  

Visit new.abb.com/ca/buildings to learn more.

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