Large-scale events are often a catalyst for sustainable urban development, improved infrastructure and increased investment. There is no better example than Expo 2010 in Shanghai. For the first time in the Expo’s history, the Shanghai edition was low-carbon, applying successful experiences in city development by using innovative “green” technologies in areas including building, transportation, energy supply and waste treatment. Sustainable companies like Siemens are a major driver behind this improvement.

Siemens is supplying more than 1 billion Euros worth of infrastructure for both the Expo and Shanghai. More than 40 Expo projects were built using Siemens technologies that improve energy efficiency without reducing quality or comfort. For example, Siemens technologies powered the “China Red” of the China Pavilion, not only creating a marvelous impression, but also reducing energy consumption by 50%. The Expo’s five permanent constructions featured the latest in Siemens building technology, thereby reducing energy consumption by 25% compared with conventional buildings. To ensure continuous and efficient power supply, especially during the peak summer season, Siemens installed energy-saving power distribution equipment.

In the “We Are the World” Pavilion, Siemens partnered with the Expo Bureau to bring visitors a vision of life in a low-carbon future. Visitors experienced innovative technologies, such as a facial recognition system used for easy home access, e-cars enabled by smart grids, a virtual workshop that helps achieve work-life balance, a tailored menu proposed by an intelligent home refrigerator, and remote diagnostic technologies showing easy healthcare solutions, just to name a few. Most of the technologies displayed are in the company’s R&D; pipeline or are prototype applications.

About 90% of the total Expo-relevant business related to environmentally friendly products and solutions that aim to upgrade city infrastructure while bringing down carbon emissions. A highly efficient power plant using Siemens technology covers 30% of Shanghai’s energy demand, but uses more than 1 million tons less coal per year. One hundred environmentally friendly highspeed trains that use key Siemens components will ultimately transport passengers from Beijing to Shanghai in less than five hours. The terminal of the high-speed line in Shanghai serves as part of the Hongqiao Transportation Hub, where Siemens installed China’s largest parking management system.

By 2018, Siemens will supply infrastructure to more than 20 other major event host cities worldwide, including infrastructure for stable power grids, public mass transit and healthcare. Along with creating and preserving jobs, those projects will also improve visitors’ experiences and the quality of life in the cities in which they take place.

Article originally published in the November 2010 edition of Sustain, the magazine of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.