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Gavin Towler
Chief Scientist for Sustainability Technologies

06 November 2023

Having in mind its complexity, how would you describe the essence of Honeywell?

Honeywell is a diverse industrial company at its core. It specializes in technologies that aid other businesses in running their operations effectively. We excel in aspects such as sensing, automation, control systems, digital transformation, and data analytics. For instance, in the aviation sector, we are renowned for developing significant components like electronics on aircraft and auxiliary power units, which are integral in controlling radar, sensing, and other functionalities vital for flight operations. Similarly, we have a strong presence in the building sector where we contribute towards creating a secure and comfortable environment by offering building control, security, and fire systems, majorly focusing on the commercial sphere.

Moreover, Honeywell is deeply entrenched in the industrial space, offering a comprehensive range of services including chemicals, catalyst business, automation, warehouse automation, safety tools, and sensors. We have crafted our niche as a system supplier for myriad industries, helping them operate efficiently with our technology-driven solutions, encompassing areas like chemical plants, oil refineries, and renewable energy assets such as wind and solar farms.

Can you talk about the interconnection between sustainability and digitization at Honeywell?

Sustainability and digitization are pivotal drivers that influence all our customers. Our focus remains on leveraging advancements in digitization, like artificial intelligence, to come up with smarter products that help our customers keep track of vital metrics such as emissions, promoting improved performance. To this end, we have initiated polls through our annual Environmental Sustainability Index to understand market sentiments better, which highlights the unanimous focus on sustainability. These two elements are not isolated; instead, they have a substantial crossover. The synergy of enhanced data and automation facilitates better sustainability solutions, steering us towards a more eco-friendly future.

What is Honeywell's engagement with Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)?

Honeywell has been at the forefront of SAF development for almost two decades. Initially, we focused on creating SAF derived from waste fats, oils, and greases, a readily available feedstock, but realized that its availability was limited and could compete with the food chain. Consequently, we have started utilizing other routes such as converting ethanol derived from different sources, including waste cellulose to jet fuel through our ethanol-to-jet technology.

Additionally, we have ventured into methods that involve the conversion of methanol to jet fuel, utilizing CO2 captured from various sources and reacting it with green hydrogen. This approach fosters a circular economy where CO2 is used and then released back into the atmosphere in a cycle powered by renewable energy, aiming for a net-zero solution. 

How do you foresee the cost dynamics evolving with these SAF technologies?

It is crucial to acknowledge that newer fuels are generally more expensive than their predecessors due to established processes and already amortized assets linked with existing fuels. However, the objective remains to reduce the costs of these innovative technologies progressively to foster quicker deployment. Noteworthy is the potential decrease in green hydrogen costs owing to falling renewable power rates, promoting a competitive edge for regions capable of generating low-cost green hydrogen. Furthermore, the universality of air for direct CO2 capture allows flexibility in locating these setups where power is cheap, offering an economic way to fuel the circular economy.

What initiatives is Honeywell undertaking in the green buildings sector?

Buildings indeed are significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, and Honeywell is engaged in enhancing their sustainability. One of the challenges is the varying expectations globally regarding the longevity of buildings, with some regions having buildings that are centuries old and not designed with modern energy efficiency standards in mind.

The demand for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) is substantial, constituting a large part of building energy consumption.


As global temperatures rise, the need for air conditioning is to skyrocket, consequently increasing power demand. It is pivotal to focus on making buildings thermally efficient to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.


At Honeywell, we are dedicated to spearheading initiatives that make buildings green and sustainable, adapting to the changing environmental landscape.

Tell us more about the impact of Honeywell Solstice technology on carbon dioxide emissions reduction.

The use of Honeywell Solstice technology for refrigeration systems has helped avoid the potential release of the equivalent of more than 326 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Regarding our efforts towards environmental sustainability, I would like to point out that we have initiated various projects globally and are keen on furthering our understanding and actions to contribute positively to the environment.

How do you perceive the acceptance of the new sustainability technologies you are introducing in the market?

Overall, we have seen a good understanding and readiness among companies to move towards a sustainable future. However, the journey toward adopting higher-cost, energy-efficient technologies is gradual due to economic factors and shareholder expectations. The role of governments is pivotal here in creating regulatory certainty and facilitating quicker permit approvals for sustainable projects. 

Tell us more about the creation and purpose of your Environmental Sustainability Index.

The ESI was initiated purely to gauge the ongoing activities in the industry and to maintain a regular check with the business and thought leaders involved in environmental and sustainability initiatives. The response has been quite encouraging, with a large number of companies meeting their sustainability targets and planning to augment their sustainability budgets. As a company, Honeywell has mirrored this commitment, having significantly reduced our own CO2 footprint through thousands of sustainability projects since 2004.

How has Honeywell managed to adhere to its sustainability goals within its own facilities?

Within our own facilities, we have conscientiously implemented a multitude of sustainability projects, around 6,300 since 2004, utilizing our building technologies extensively. Our journey towards carbon neutrality is mapped with stringent goals, including a reduction of our scope one and scope two emissions by 50% by 2030, against a 2018 baseline. Additionally, we are also targeting a 23% reduction in scope three emissions by 2037.

Looking forward, which sectors do you believe will find the transition to sustainable technologies most challenging?

Transitioning to sustainable technologies is indeed a steep road for some sectors, especially those involved in hard-to-decarbonize industrial operations such as steel and concrete production. These sectors inherently require high-energy-intensive processes or are CO2 emission-centric due to their chemical processes. They would benefit greatly from developing a hydrogen economy or utilizing carbon capture technologies to mitigate the impact of CO2 emissions.

Future strategies will likely involve market-based approaches like carbon pricing or taxes that promote the adoption of cost-effective solutions for reducing CO2 emissions. Leveraging such strategies will spur industries to find the most efficient solution rather than being restricted to government-mandated technologies. This will be a crucial step in fostering a sustainable industrial landscape, supporting industries in their transition towards greener practices while maintaining economic viability.

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