Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the building sector represent a significant portion of emissions globally. Just ask Sândina Ponte ’22 MTL, who knows a thing or two about the challenges in reducing GHG emissions by decarbonizing buildings. Trained as an industrial and systems engineer, she has been with the Swiss technology giant, ABB, for almost two decades.
For nearly five years, Ponte was the company’s USA Green Real Estate Manager, overseeing 200 sites in the United States and supporting properties in Canada and Mexico, as well. Her responsibilities included implementing sustainability and energy-efficiency measures to decarbonize ABB’s buildings. And that’s where she hit a snag.
“Our biggest challenge was collecting energy consumption data,” Ponte says. “The first step in any sustainability initiative is to baseline so that once we implement sustainability and energy efficiency measures, we can quantify the improvements and correctly report reductions in carbon emissions. The lack of data granularity limited our insights and implementation.”
To solve the problem, Ponte pitched an energy data collection project to ABB’s real estate and IT teams. At the same time, she applied to the Master of Science in Technology Leadership (MTL) program at Brown, with the thought of dovetailing her data collection proposal at ABB with her MTL degree’s Critical Challenge Project, an independent capstone in which students address a real-time challenge and work alongside an advisor to develop viable solutions. The confluence of her professional and academic work would benefit both Ponte and her company.