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Corporate InformationSustainability

The SDGs and the Building Systems Business Unit

Building Systems Business Unit
Providing Products and Services
That Realize Safety, Security, and Comfort
Hideaki Seki
Senior Vice President and Executive Officer
CEO of Building Systems Business Unit

Addressing Rapid Urbanization and Aging Through Building Services

At Hitachi's Building Systems Business Unit, our primary focus is elevators and escalators, but we also provide management services for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), the most energy-intensive components of most buildings, as well as other building equipment like lighting and security systems.

We recognize the relevance to our business of a range of social issues, including obsolescence and deterioration of equipment in highly urbanized countries and regions, labor shortages in aging societies, and increased incidence of natural disasters due to climate change. We see business opportunities in two areas in particular: reducing the energy consumption of elevators, escalators, HVAC, lighting, and other building equipment, and providing safety, security, and comfort. The former is an idea that has long enjoyed public support, but public interest in the latter is also increasing globally.

For most users, elevators fade into the background, but even the healthiest person notices the inconvenience of climbing ten or more flights of stairs on foot when an elevator goes out of service. It is vitally important to avoid such outages, particularly in today's aging societies. We are developing safer, less stressful elevators for the high-rise buildings that are increasingly common globally, and two Hitachi-designed elevators that move at 1,260 m/min are scheduled to begin service in China in the near future. As indispensable elements in resilient, sustainable communities where all residents can enjoy safety, security, and comfort, our products and services are in themselves contributions to achieving the SDGs.

We have been applying networking technology to elevators, escalators, and a range of other building equipment in Japan for some 20 years now, and have considerable experience at analyzing the data obtained to detect signs of malfunction and minimize the impact on users' daily lives through preventative maintenance. Elevators installed in apartment buildings are connected to Hitachi's data center for 24-hour monitoring.

As an example of how the business unit utilizes the data it has accumulated, we are working to commercialize services using Hitachi's humanoid robot “EMIEW3.” Proof of concept (PoC) tests are underway at an airport and a railway terminal, and, as Japan welcomes an increasing number of visitors from around the world while simultaneously struggling to fill positions supporting those visitors, we expect to make a significant contribution to social diversity and inclusion. We also intend to expand our business greatly by providing customized smart building services that leverage Hitachi's IoT platform, Lumada—for example, improving the value of facilities through visitor analysis, or realizing comfortable, efficient mobility based on human flow analysis.

As our business expands globally, we remain mindful of the risks it poses to societies and the environment. For example, when operating in regions outside Japan, we ensure that we have an accurate understanding of the local legal system, cultures and customs in order to establish appropriate employment agreements and occupational health and safety programs, as well as complying with the environmental regulations in every region along the value chain.

Among the social and environmental risks faced by the business unit, one unavoidable example is the risk of natural disasters such as major earthquakes. We prepare for these unpredictable situations by performing wide-ranging drills to practice our response, which includes rapidly determining the number of stopped elevators in a disaster and rescuing any people still trapped inside them. It should also be noted that elevators and escalators, despite their convenience, have the potential to cause major accidents if not used correctly. We recognize the importance of teaching children how to use this equipment safely and our business sites within and outside Japan have conducted awareness programs for many years.

Contributing to Sustainable Urban Development by Providing Elevators, Escalators, and Building Services Realizing Safety, Security, and Comfort

With respect to the SDGs, our business unit focuses its efforts particularly on Goal 11. When we speak about contributing to the development of cities and communities, this may evoke images of property development, but this is not the contribution we make. We aim to help make cities sustainable by offering indispensable products and services realizing safety, security, and comfort. Through our ongoing efforts to protect the environment and drive technological breakthroughs, we also support Goals 9 and 13. Our global expansion creates employment in various regions, and we also strive to improve efficiency through IoT and AI and support workstyle reforms. These efforts contribute to Goal 8. All the employees within our business unit share our attitude toward the SDGs, and we believe that advancing toward a sustainable society while contributing to the resolution of social issues will naturally lead to business development.

Key SDGs for Our Business Unit

Smart Building Services to Help Achieve Goal 11