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Siemens Launches City Performance Tool in the U.S. to Aid Sustainability Efforts

Recently, hundreds of government officials, business leaders, city planners, and technology and policy experts convened in Washington, D.C. to share their insights on city sustainability.

Alison Taylor is VP Sustainability, Americas, Siemens.The two-day conference sponsored by Smart Cities Councilcovered such topics as data-driven infrastructure planning, integrated freight and passenger transport networks, smart communications systems, policies promoting urban innovation, infrastructure financing, and technologies for clean, local energy generation, distribution and storage.

The opening keynote session on September 15th, "Leapfrog to the Future 2025," featured a roundtable of top business executives – including Siemens' own Alison Taylor, VP, Sustainability, Americas – who discussed the current state of cities' sustainability efforts and some of the challenges that cities face.

Other executives from organizations such as Bechtel, Leidos, IBM and MasterCard joined Taylor to discuss a variety of these challenges – from design and ideation to finance and procurement. The overall consensus among the panel members was:

A.) Becoming a smart, sustainable city requires collaboration across infrastructure sectors and among private, civic and public actors.

B). It also requires complementing technology solutions with smart policymaking so that citizens are involved in designing and implementing sustainable solutions.

C). The current, and cumbersome, procurement process offers the best opportunity for implementing this type of balanced collaborative approach.

After the roundtable, I sat down with Alison Taylor to discuss how Siemens is helping cities address some of these issues. One of the ways the technology and infrastructure company is helping cities is through its City Performance Tool (CyPT), which officially launched in the U.S. during Smart Cities Week.

ImageBased on Siemens technical expertise and global experience, the software platform estimates the long-term economic and environmental impacts of more than 70 buildings, energy, and transport technologies in cities.

"We've been developing the platform in the U.S. for a few years, and have spent the last two years tweaking and perfecting it in our pilot cities of New Bedford, Massachusetts and Riverside California," says Taylor.

Minneapolis, MN; San Francisco, CA and Mexico City, Mexico are also testing and using the tool, in addition to cities such as Munich, Vienna, London, Nanjing, Berlin, Copenhagen, Aarhus, Helsinki, Wuhan, Seoul, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, and Adelaide in other countries around the world.

The Tool offers city planners a holistic approach for prioritizing infrastructure investments based on quantifiable contributions to growth and sustainability. It looks at population, transportation networks, commercial and residential buildings, and energy use.

"The tool can help cities answer questions like how to reduce something such as carbon emissions, if the change needs to be behavioral or technological, and the number of jobs created out of an initiative as well as the costs," says Taylor.

And the tool continues to evolve.  Now that more cities are using the CyPT, Siemens has been able to streamline the CyPT data collection process in cities, incorporate technologies most relevant to cities, and encourage results sharing among cities from different regions around the world.

"The question I was asked in D.C. is whether the tool can factor in changes in policy. The tool will be revised to recognize changes in policy that affect emissions," Taylor says. "We see the need for smarter use of data to help inform cities as they make sustained and targeted investments in order to improve city infrastructure. The tool allows city managers and planners a unique view of their city's impact and helps identify the areas of greatest need and effectiveness for better resource allocation."

Siemens has also signed on to support the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance (CNCA).  CNCA is a collaboration of global cities committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 or sooner. By making the CyPT available to CNCA, alliance members will be able to leverage the software model to evaluate how specific building, transport, and energy technologies can help them achieve their environmental goals.  The eight U.S. alliance cities include Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and New York City, among others.

And while the company is bolstering its commitment to supporting cities become more sustainable, Siemens has also just announced in the New York Times– on the heels of New York Climate Week – its commitment to cut its global carbon footprint in half by 2020 and to make its global operations carbon neutral by 2030 by eliminating a vast majority of  its carbon emissions, while also supporting projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions outside of Siemens, known as carbon offsets.

In the announcement, Joe Kaeser, President and CEO, Siemens AG, said of the company's ambitious plans, "Cutting your carbon footprint is not only good corporate citizenship, it's also good business."


*Editor's Note: This post was commissioned by Siemens.