WHU & MIT Team Wins Siemens Tech for Sustainability Award

The project aims to offer commercial properties improved protection against environmental hazards

Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods—all of these environmental hazards have the power to cause real harm to commercial and industrial buildings alike. And, due to climate change, they could occur more frequently in the future and carry even more serious consequences than ever before. Scientists at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have now developed a way of identifying location-specific climate hazards for these buildings, highlighting possible adaptation measures—and quantifying the price of inaction.

“Environmental hazards are already causing billions in damage, and in light of climate change, we fear even more severe catastrophes will occur in the future,” says Professor Stefan Spinler, Chair of Logistics Management at WHU. “It is therefore imperative that market players—especially those in the real estate sector—brace themselves. And that’s why we developed our concept.” The team has worked on this task for a total of five months, supported in its earliest collaboration phases by Erika Gupta, Head of Sustainability for Siemens Financial Services Americas, and Mary Claire Morris, Sustainable Finance Siemens Americas. Their involvement allowed the team, called “CRISP-X,” access to the assessment procedures already in place at Siemens, which, in turn, has made a commercial implementation of their project possible from the jump.

Each team member was able to bring something to the table, with their respective knowledge complementing each other’s perfectly. Professor Spinler and one of his PhD students Patience Saungweme contributed their knowledge of resilience and sustainability; Dr. Matthias Winkenbach of MIT, himself a former PhD student at Professor Spinler’s chair, offered his extensive experience in supply chain modeling and visualization.

For their project, the CRISP-X research team won first prize in the “Driving Climate Resiliency” category of Siemens’s Tech for Sustainability Campaign 2024. The CRISP-X approach enables companies to make more informed, data-based decisions when selecting the location of their production facilities. It also helps them minimize their financing and insurance costs and design their buildings more sustainably.

Siemens’s 2024 Tech for Sustainability campaign 

The Tech for Sustainability campaign is a global initiative for students, researchers, start-ups, and innovative individuals who want to tackle real sustainability issues with technological solutions. The initiative is aiming to shape the future and is organized annually by Siemens. Teams and individuals can choose in advance from a series of real problems for which they would like to develop innovative solutions. If the idea is accepted, it can be implemented over several days at the competition with the support of tech experts from all over the world. Finally, the results are presented at a live pitch to high-ranking Siemens managers and a panel of experts, who decide on the winners in each of the six categories. The CRISP-X concept convinced the judges with its concept to promote corporate growth and sustainability through climate resilience.