ABB leads by example

Blackouts, load-shedding and investment in electricity infrastructure were big worries for South Africans in 2009 when ABB first sponsored a supplement in the Mail & Guardian that focused on energy.

Since then water has become another national worry because of droughts, shortages, pollution and concerns about infrastructure and capacity. In a water-stressed country, this is understandable.

The M&G continues to run a regular focus on energy section, which covers energy efficiency, water-related issues and renewable energy technologies. This ABB-led information campaign was aimed not only at ABB’s utility and industry customers but also at decision-makers in government, property owners, consumers and society at large.

ABB’s support for the energy supplement evolved into support for the energy efficiency and carbon management category in the annual M&G Greening the Future Awards and this year ABB decided also to sponsor the water care and management category. Both awards tie in with ABB’s objective of promoting greater awareness of energy efficiency and responsible water use.

ABB South Africa, a subsidiary of the global power and automation group, supplies technology linked to energy efficiency and water solutions to help lower environmental impact. For the electricity sector this includes efficient drives and motors and intelligent building systems. Regarding water networks, ABB’s technology solutions improve energy efficiency, productivity and reliability.

ABB also provides desalination and treatment plants. The company’s head office, manufacturing and logistics centre at Longmeadow in Johannesburg is a showcase of energy efficiency and water conservation. The building is designed to encourage industry, business and commerce to implement up-to-date technology to use energy and water more efficiently.

As a member of the Energy Efficiency Accord, ABB South Africa’s Longmeadow building has won an eta award for energy savings and the South African Property Owners’ Association presented the developer of the Longmeadow facility, Improvon, with a green building design award. Utilities, industry and commerce can respond in a responsible way to stressed natural resources and increase their bottom line at the same time by investing in new technologies.

One of ABB’s most important initiatives has been to invest in companies involved with power solutions such as smart-grid communications, wave power generation, wind-farm efficiency and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. It is helping to curb energy consumption in buildings, assisting customers to meet low emission targets, working on decentralised renewable energy projects and equipping young people to understand energy efficiency and water conservation.

The company sponsors environmental education at primary schools, a youth-in-energy programme in the Eastern Cape and more generally maths education to encourage children to consider careers in fields such as engineering, technology and finance.

Mostly importantly, these initiatives are aimed at the first generation of children growing up in a world with unprecedented threats and challenges to humankind, including pollution, rapidly depleting natural resources and lightning-speed loss of biodiversity.

Chesney Bradshaw is group communications and sustainability manager at ABB South Africa

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