Sustainability has become a hot topic for many companies as they have realized the immense importance of reducing their carbon footprints. Motivated by consumers, employees, and other stakeholders, many companies are pursuing strategies to reduce their carbon footprints on the road to becoming carbon neutral. By reducing their carbon footprints, companies not only contribute to a cleaner planet¾they also realize increased financial success through further market differentiation and through the encouragement of employees to create new products and services.

To become carbon neutral, a company’s operation must remove as much carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere as it produces. The first step in achieving this is to acquire a baseline understanding of the company’s current carbon footprint. Next, the company must acquire access to the carbon emissions of the energy it consumes. This requires access to the necessary underlying data and a way of integrating and interpreting that data to guide sustainability efforts.

This is where the 15-year partnership between Cisco and Schneider Electric can help:

  • Cisco is a leader in IT solutions such as industrial switching, IoT connectivity, and end-to-end cybersecurity.
  • Schneider Electric is a leader in IT and OT solutions providing energy and automation digital solutions for efficiency and sustainability.

Together, Cisco and Schneider Electric provide the combined technology that companies can leverage as they move toward becoming carbon neutral. Examples of that technology include smart grids and smart buildings.

Smart grids

Utilities are key stakeholders on the road to carbon neutrality, needing to:

  • Optimize the use of renewable energy sources
  • Ensure optimal usage of energy provided through the electric grid

Today, every utility company may be looking at ways to deploy smart grids to increase the efficiency and sustainability of their electric grids.

Egypt’s national energy grid is an important example of smart grid deployment. In July 2020, Schneider Electric was selected to convert Egypt’s national electric distribution network into a future-ready smart grid by establishing: [1]

  • Four control centers to monitor and optimize the electricity network
  • 4,000 smart ring main units to detect and resolve network faults, ensuring energy availability and stability

As part of this project, Schneider Electric is deploying its EcoStruxure grid technology to automate and optimize the grid’s operations. The four control centers will use Schneider Electric’s Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS) to monitor, control, and reconfigure the network using big data and artificial intelligence.

However, the efficacy of these applications is only as good as the data they receive, derived from units¾such as smart meters¾in the field. To address this challenge in Egypt, Schneider Electric turned to its partnership with Cisco. As a result, Cisco is supplying the IP and security infrastructure, including:

  • Cisco routers, switches, and a variety of cyber security equipment
  • Tools like the Cisco Secure Firewall and Cisco Secure Network Analytics

On site, the grid will be equipped with Cisco IR1101 5G-ready industrial routers to support efficient and secure communication with the control centers.

Smart buildings

Many existing building management systems were built on older technology, creating a challenge for the operations staff that requires cost-effective access to the data needed to run the building’s operations efficiently. Smart buildings address this challenge, leveraging automated processes to control the building’s operations¾including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, security, and other systems. By using IoT devices to collect data, the smart building infrastructure helps owners, operators, and facility managers improve asset reliability and performance. This practice helps reduce energy use, optimizes the use of space, and minimizes the environmental impact of buildings.

Smart buildings represent another area in which Cisco and Schneider work together to help companies implement strategies to reduce their carbon emissions at the building level. These efforts bring IT and operational building control together in a secure and efficient IP network solution. The Cisco and Schneider solution is unlike other building automation offers because it is built on IP protocols and an open integration platform. This allows information to be gathered from a broad range of sources—connected room sensors and third-party building services, for example—for transmission to a cloud analytics platform and to workplace management applications.

In fact, in the recent Cisco Sustainability challenge, Schneider earned first place with the “Energy efficiency in smart buildings” solution. This solution combines the Schneider intelligent building management solution and Cisco DNA Spaces. It drives clear sustainability performance indicators focusing on energy efficiency in smart buildings with the objective of helping building owners achieve their global net-zero goals by 2030.

Smart manufacturing and smart industry

The sustainability road to reduce carbon emissions doesn’t stop with utilities and buildings. Digital transformation use cases apply across all industries and manufacturing operations¾from municipalities looking to ease congestion with smart traffic systems to mining companies that want to reduce energy waste. For example, mining companies can leverage the Cisco and Schneider Electric partnership to deploy network and automation equipment for both OT and IT environments to help enable things like driving trucks autonomously, which is more efficient than the use of individual drivers.

Although every company would do well to reduce its carbon emissions, one solution cannot resolve all sustainability challenges. Nevertheless, companies can utilize Cisco and Schneider Electric IT and OT building blocks to create customized solutions that more precisely meet their unique sustainability needs.

Learn how the Schneider Electric and Cisco partnership can help implement your sustainability plan.


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[1] Schneider Electric to build four control centers for Egypt’s national energy grid


Jean Noel Enckle

Business Development Manager