Smart Cities 2 Graphics Promotion Siemens AG

Sarah Handley, Carbon Neutral Programme Manager at Siemens, is set to speak at the Smart Cities Development Conference on the 6th February. Ahead of the event we hear exclusively from Sarah on the exceptional work Siemens is doing within the market as one of the leading smart city providers. 


Siemens is at the forefront of innovation, with a passion for technology and sustainability. Tell us a little about the work Siemens is doing and their vision for the future?

According to a number of market analyst reports including Navigant Research, Siemens has been ranked as one of the leading smart city providers.

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Part of the reason for this is that Siemens has written a number of reports on what smart cities mean, including:

  • The Business Case for Smart City Infrastructure:  A recent study from Siemens, published in cooperation with Arup and supported by London’s Deputy Mayor for Business, proposes a methodology for quantifying return on investments in digital urban infrastructure, based on an analysis of five European cities. (link)
  • Smart Nation reports: A number of cities and countries want to be ‘Smart’ and sustainable but do not know where to begin.  Siemens has written smart nation reports for a number of countries including India, the Nordics (link), Italy, Saudi Arabia (link) and Hungary.
  • Smart Ports: Siemens has also written a number of reports on how infrastructure such as airports and ports (link) – for example, while many cities benefit from economic growth and jobs from ports, these cities are also confronting the necessity of improving quality of life for city residents, specifically reducing air pollution, noise and congestion – interests that cities have in common with ports.


More importantly, Siemens is supporting a number of cities with the development of a number of real Smart City projects including:

  • Aspern in Vienna (Austria): To build a Smart City quarter as a worldwide flagship project for energy efficiency and quality of life and to showcase Vienna as one of the smartest and greenest cities in the world. (link)
  • Singapore: Siemens has teamed up with this city-state’s government to develop smart city concepts that could become models for the rest of the world. (link)
  • UK: closer to home, Siemens is involved with a number of smart city projects in the UK including Triangulum and Sharing Cities.  On Triangulum, Siemens is leading the energy-related aspects of the Triangulum project in Manchester, connecting up a large number of local energy generation assets, electrical storage devices and buildings within the Manchester corridor to a centralised control platform. (link).   


You’re the Carbon Neutral Programme Manager at Siemens UK – what does the role consist of?

Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens AG announced our global target to be carbon neutral by 2030 and to halve our carbon emissions by 2020 in 2015. We were one of the first companies to make such an ambitious statement ahead of the Paris Agreement.

My role is to support the global target and achieve carbon neutral for all Siemens businesses operating in the UK. My background at Siemens is in managing environmental protection and compliance so I am familiar with reporting with regulatory reporting requirements for carbon and energy.  What is different about my current role is the need to engage with internal stakeholders, with an emphasis on persuading and influencing to change the way we operate our business to be carbon neutral.    It is more about change management for sustainability than just managing reducing carbon.


And how is the ‘Carbon Neutral by 2030’ progressing?

The scope for the global carbon reduction programme is reducing carbon emissions from electricity and gas consumption in our building and manufacturing sites, and from our fleet.

The four modules of the programme are Energy Efficiency, Distributed Energy Systems, Fleet and purchase of Green Energy.

Siemens has already achieved a significant reduction by switching to a Green Energy contract, and while this is an important step we need to do more to change our behaviour towards energy consumption.  We are focusing on energy efficiency and energy reduction in our operations so that we can de-couple growth from consumption in line with our boarder sustainability goals.

The biggest opportunity for reducing carbon is to focus on the transition to electric vehicles although it is a complicated landscape to navigate. We have plans to pilot electric vehicles for our commercial fleet and we are using Siemens technology to install electric charging networks at our sites.


The way cities are working is changing – with a desire from leading cities across the world to become a ‘Smart City’. What does this term mean to you?

Smart Cities brings together emerging technologies that will help to improve the efficiency and quality of life for people working in cities.  We need to focus on healthier cities by reducing air pollution, decarbonisation of the energy supply, using local renewable energy and creating green spaces.

Cities are under pressure. Urban centres all over the world are struggling to cope with booming populations that place an increasing demand on resources such as energy, clean water, and clean air. Cities around the world are striving to find innovative ways of dealing with air and noise pollution, ever-increasing urban traffic, and the effects of climate change – and more and more cities are turning to smart technologies to achieve this. The question is no longer whether cities should digitalise and turn into smart cities, but rather when smart urban projects will be scaled up on a global level.

Digitalisation brings significant opportunities, particularly with the Internet of Things (IoT). My home is increasingly controlled by digital devices; Nest, Hue lighting and Alexa AI. Even my fridge is Wi-Fi enabled although I am not sure why this is useful – yet!  If I can control my home energy use through digital technology and AI how much more can we do on an industrial scale?

With seamless integration of data gathered by the Internet of Things (IoT), the city’s underlying infrastructure layer can be managed and optimised.  Digitalisation will improve a city’s productivity, secure growth, and drive economic activity as well as making cities better, healthier and more inclusive places to live. Management of buildings, resources and system can be enhanced with the benefit of digital tools and AI to be more efficient or to use sustainability short-hand ‘do more with less’. Digitalisation of the electricity grid will help us to balance of energy and make better use of renewables as we move away from fossil fuels.  The use of data for modelling such as Digital Twin technology can help us predict lifecycle impacts for projects, buildings and products and impacts to aid sustainable decision-making.

For example, integrated mobility (transport) systems ensure high capacity utilisation and availability – at lower costs. What’s more, people benefit from greater convenience, safety and punctuality. With major projects already underway and a new UK train factory planned to build the next generation of tube trains for London, Siemens is doing so much in this space and it is a very exciting time.


To develop Smart Cities there needs to be a high-level of collaboration between the public and private sectors – do you feel that there needs to be more done in this area to integrate new technology and innovations quicker?

Siemens is participating projects such as the Mayor of London’s City-Business Climate Partnership and the Triangulum project in Manchester where there is collaboration between public and private sectors. In the past year I have attended workshops for the London Business Climate leaders project and a common theme is how we can act as leaders for change and find opportunities for more collaboration in the city. We are sharing ideas and projects that may have a wider benefit than just our own businesses.


Have you seen a cultural change in recent years towards a more carbon neutral mindset within the industry – and if so, why is this?

I have seen an increasing awareness of sustainability and the need to take action to address climate change but it’s not nearly enough! The impact of climate change is seen as so far in the future that it is difficult to keep it at the top of the agenda. The current political climate (dare I mention Brexit) is very distracting and with this uncertainty it is difficult to invest in the future.  Industry needs long term government policy to provide security for investment in decarbonising infrastructure, energy and heat.  Programmes like David Attenborough’s Blue Planet have had a positive impact of public awareness of the global impact on the environment from pollution and it’s important to capitalise on this knowledge to build the message of why we need to act now. To find out more I recommend a visit to The Crystal in London which is home to Siemens’ sustainable city experts and hosts an interactive exhibition that is open to the public. (Visit: )


The Smart Cities Development Conference is set to bring together those from across the built environment industry to drive forward the Smart City agenda and promote collaboration between sectors. Why is it an important date in the industry calendar?

The conference is important to help understand current trends and developments within smart city infrastructure such as building, energy, transport and social infrastructure. It will also help us understand our role as leaders promoting change in cities.


Click here to register for the Smart Cities Development Conference.