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Creating Smarter Cities

3 min read


Lisa Brown, National Director, Local Government, Johnson Controls

This post is sponsored by Johnson Controls.

Lisa Brown joined Johnson Controls in 2003 as District Sales Manager in the Building Efficiency division. In 2014, she was named National Director, Local Government where she is responsible for growth of the local government market in North America, including the development of strategies, offerings and innovations for local government’s service and systems markets.

Here she talks to SmartBrief about the Smart Cities program and trends municipalities are using to attract investment, people and new businesses via innovative technology and other solutions.

Question: There’s a lot of media attention around cities becoming smart, but what does the smart leader look to do to create a successful city?

Lisa Brown: Leaders are motivated to create the city of tomorrow, today. This means targeting investments to become energy efficient, connected, sustainable, innovative and livable. They use all the current technologies available to them to create connected cities, working with infrastructure, utility, data and technology partners and their leaders to create a common vision. Smart cities also look to increase their use of renewable resources and source them locally, while working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, they put programs in place to enhance their economic development and cultivate a local workforce. At Johnson Controls, we help leaders bring various entities and strategies together to achieve their goals.

 Q: How can Smart City concepts be used to attract new business and investment?

LB: All municipalities are currently competing to attract and retain new business, citizens and employees. In many cases, the competition is fueled by millennials, who are shifting the landscape as they move from the suburbs into urban areas. As a result, mayors are turning their attention to transportation, housing, jobs and the technology that these young people are demanding. In order for a city or county to thrive, they must adopt a forward-thinking view that meets their economic, environmental and social goals. The Smart City strategy is focused on people, planet and performance, working with customers to ensure their goals are met, helping them package data so it can be communicated correctly, and partnering with them to develop more prosperous, healthy and livable communities.

 Q: Cite an example that demonstrates how energy solutions and smart technology work together to produce efficiency and provide cost savings.

 LB: The city of Louisville launched Sustain Louisville in 2013 to protect the environment, reduce the metro area’s carbon footprint, ensure the health, wellness and property of all citizens and create a culture of sustainability. To achieve its sustainability goals, planners knew they would need to make critical upgrades to inefficient, high-maintenance building equipment.

Johnson Controls designed a plan that included nearly $27 million in energy-efficient upgrades and repairs in municipal-owned buildings, without the need for Louisville Metro to provide capital or assume financial risk. Under an energy savings performance contract, facility improvements would be paid for up front by Johnson Controls and guaranteed to generate enough savings to pay for themselves over time. And if the savings were to fall short, Johnson Controls would assume financial liability.

By combining energy efficiency and smart technology, the city has created 400 new jobs (90 percent staying in the community), reduced annual carbon emissions by 19,900 metric tons and provided $2.7 million in year-over-year savings without creating any new taxes.