Siemens crystallises thinking on smart sustainable cities

Siemens has positioned itself at the forefront of urbanisation technology with the unveiling of The Crystal in London - the world's largest showcase dedicated to greening future cities.

The £30m glass-clad structure located in the capital’s Docklands, will serve as a technology innovation hub and urban dialogue platform to drive the growth of sustainable cities through partnerships, research and collaboration.

The building itself has been designed to achieve the highest BREEAM and LEED ratings for energy efficiency, powered completely by a mix of solar, ground source heat pumps and LED lighting. Grid-ready, the site will also harvest rainwater for reuse or recycling.

Covering 6,300 square meters in total, The Crystal consumes 50% less power and emits 65% less CO2 than comparable office buildings – making it one of the greenest facilities in the world. Two-thirds of the roof is covered in PV panels, generating around 20% of electricity requirements.

Inside, the building will showcase the latest in urban sustainable thinking with a highly interactive exhibition that opens to the public shortly.

Speaking at The Crystal’s launch yesterday, Siemens ECO Peter Loscher said the centre would showcase a wide variety of opportunities and concrete solutions.

“Cities are the engines of the world economy and also have the greatest impact on the environment. The development of our planet will stand or fall with the development of cities,” he said.

Roland Busch, who heads up the company’s infrastructure & cities sector, pointed out that global demand for better water supplies, power networks, transport networks and building infrastructures within cities was developing into a €300bn market.

“In this growth market, the Crystal will help us intensify dialogue with our customers … it is our sector’s showcase, contact point and mastermind.

“We want to highlight what the challenges of the future are, but also the solutions. Urbanisation is a trend that we need to deal with and we believe that an incremental move forward will not do the trick, we need to look for intermodal solutions.”

Adding to this, Loscher said that cities generate around 80% of global GDP and were responsible for generating 70% of greenhouse gas emissions.

“In order to prosper and grow, cities must also be good places to live and work. They have to provide services people rely on, like housing and transportation,” he maintained.

The initiative has been welcomed by London Mayor Boris Johnson who upon visiting the facility, said it had an “incredible educational angle”.

“It shows what urban life is going to be like and the ways we can work together to improve our cities,” he said.

According to research from Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development, in coming years world cities will invest €2tn a year to improve water, electricity and transportation systems. Siemens strategy is to be part of this growth and ambitiously the “partner for choice” for the world’s cities.

The Crystal will be the first of three centres of competence for cities that Siemens is investing in. Siemens also plans to focus its energy on showcasing future urban solutions outside of London and has targeted New York, Munich and Berlin for this purpose.

Maxine Perella

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