Why Sustainability Will Make the Future Brighter
Our Chairman and CEO Darius Adamczyk talks about the importance of the environment and what technology can do to help
The 50th anniversary of Earth Day marks a milestone in the environmental movement and a time to reflect both the past and future. Honeywell’s Chairman and CEO Darius Adamczyk recently talked to the Yale Business Sustainability Summit about the role of technology in promoting a cleaner and more sustainable environment.
Why does Honeywell see itself as playing a leadership role in sustainability?
Honeywell has a long legacy rooted in sustainability-related innovation. Several decades ago, we developed the refrigerants and aerosols that helped reverse damage to the ozone layer.
Our technologists invented the catalytic converter, an automobile control system that reduces toxic gases and pollutants from emissions.
Today, we are developing innovations that can help make big improvements in sustainability across a wide range of industries. Many of our existing technologies could already make a substantial difference.
Give us an example of an existing technology that would be impactful.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are high-global-warming-potential molecules used commonly in applications such as refrigerants. If left unmitigated, air-conditioning refrigerants would contribute 20 to 25 percent of global warming by 2050.
Honeywell has pioneered a new generation of low-global-warming-potential hydrofluoro-olefin (HFO) refrigerants – along with aerosols, solvents and blowing agents – that can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions impact of current offerings on the market by more than 99 percent.
Our Solstice portfolio of low-global-warming products have already helped customers avoid discharging the equivalent of over 150 million metric tons of CO2.
What about renewable fuels?
Honeywell is developing alternatives to petroleum-based fuel, using waste products or plant-based feedstocks such as algae and jatropha – which don’t compete with food resources – to make green fuels.
For example, Honeywell’s technology allows refineries to produce green jet fuel, which can enable 60 to 85 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions on a life-cycle basis.
Honeywell’s technologies also can enable production of green diesel from renewable oils, which can generate an 85 percent reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from road, rail and shipping transportation.
How can Honeywell enhance sustainability in the aviation industry?
If applied widely today, Honeywell’s existing technologies can enable up to four times the flights that occurred in 2019 with half the greenhouse gas emissions.
Honeywell Forge’s cloud software analytics can optimize aircraft operations and routing, saving up to 5 percent of energy use per flight.
We are also producing electric and hybrid electric aircraft systems that reduce fuel use and emissions, particularly during takeoff, landing and taxiway operations, all of which typically occur in densely populated urban areas.
Commercial buildings have a big environmental footprint. How can Honeywell’s technologies help?
Electricity use from commercial buildings currently accounts for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. By 2040, commercial buildings are expected to consume more than half the electricity generated worldwide.
Our technologies are present in more than 10 million buildings worldwide, making them safer, more secure, more comfortable and up to 40 percent more energy efficient.
Honeywell Forge analytics provide predictive maintenance and dynamic control to further reduce energy costs by as much as 20 percent on existing standard building management system.
Finally, our financed energy savings programs can help schools, municipal buildings, government facilities, and other building portfolios save energy and money. These solutions allow for upgrades in energy-efficient technologies that are paid for with energy savings.
To date, we have implemented 6,000 of these projects, which have collectively decreased customers’ energy and operating costs by an estimated $6 billion.
What is Honeywell doing about improving the sustainability of supply chains?
With our reliance on e-commerce and home delivery growing even faster during these times, it will become critical to make our supply chains more sustainable.
Honeywell’s smart warehouse and smart logistics solutions shorten supply times, enable more efficient e-commerce, reduce food spoilage and optimize final delivery routes. According to the United Nations, the world grows enough food to feed 10 billion people today, but one-third is lost between the farmer and the consumer.
One of our customers in the online grocery space was able to use our technology to more than double the orders it could fulfill per day. Our system and software allowed the company to expand its services to offer same-day delivery in a major metropolitan area.
Honeywell is even developing unmanned aerial vehicles, which reduce power and emissions for last-mile delivery.
What’s next for the future of sustainability?
As we look to tomorrow, the world will use more wind and solar power and that means the key to our renewable energy future is energy storage. Honeywell is developing energy storage technologies such as flow batteries that allow surplus wind and solar power to be stored and used when needed.
We are also on the cusp of transitioning to a more hydrogen-based economy, which offers the potential for big reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
We are working on ways to decarbonize residential, commercial and industrial energy by replacing natural gas with hydrogen, which ultimately can be produced by electrolyzing water using renewable power. In fact, we are already working with gas companies to make their distribution systems ready for hydrogen.
In 2020, the world is very focused on the coronavirus outbreak. Is sustainability still relevant given the concerns around public health?
Yes, sustainability is very much relevant. Long after the coronavirus situation is resolved, the environment will be an important area for all of us to focus on over the coming decades.
During this time of global crisis, it is fitting now more than ever that we plan for a clean and sustainable world for our children and grandchildren. Even in this economy with the challenges it brings, we will make the necessary investments in our sustainable technologies and our sustainable future.
At Honeywell, we believe the future is what we make it. When it comes to sustaining the environment, these words ring true. We all need to work together toward this common purpose – everyone can make a difference.