Climate Action vs. Business: How Can IoT Help Corporates Achieve Their Sustainability Goals?
In the wake of escalating climate concerns, sustainability has become a crucial focus for corporates across various industries. Companies that had set sustainability plans aside for future consideration are now feeling pressure from governments, regulators, customers, and even employees to act. And one of the most impactful actions they are taking is investing in technology to make their business operations and workplaces greener.
In this context, the Internet of Things (IoT) has emerged as a valuable tool for companies to navigate their sustainability path. With its array of interconnected devices and advanced data analytics capabilities, IoT offers unparalleled potential for businesses to monitor, manage, and reduce waste and emissions.
However, many companies still need to be convinced to invest in tech for sustainability because they struggle to relate the potential benefits to their bottom line. For instance, a business might be reluctant to implement an IoT solution that stores different waste types in dedicated bins for sustainable disposal because it does not reduce waste. Similarly, a system that arrests pollutants from a factory's HVAC system before releasing exhaust gases into the atmosphere does not directly improve the factory's output.
Not all IoT sustainability solutions can be justified by their direct contribution to profitability. Nevertheless, other factors make investing in them equally, if not more, urgent than initiatives with quantifiable financial benefits.
Below are three compelling reasons why investing in solutions that support sustainability goals is key to business growth and longevity.
- Reputation and Brand Image: Prioritizing climate action demonstrates a commitment to environmental responsibility and significantly impacts a company's reputation and brand image. Research reveals that 59% of consumers worldwide are willing to boycott brands that do not prioritize the planet's well-being. Furthermore, a recent IBM Survey shows 68% of prospective employees are more willing to accept positions from sustainable companies. Therefore, cultivating a positive reputation in terms of sustainability can help attract and retain customers and talent in an increasingly competitive market.
- Investor Relations and Access to Capital: Institutional investors are increasingly considering environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in their investment decisions. According to a survey by Morgan Stanley, 85% of individual investors are interested in sustainable investing. Companies with robust climate action plans are more likely to attract investors and gain access to capital. Some investors are already divesting from carbon-intensive industries, making it essential for companies to address climate-related risks to maintain investor confidence.
- Innovation and Competitive Advantage: Embracing climate action can drive innovation within a company. Developing sustainable products, adopting clean technologies, and implementing eco-friendly processes can give businesses a competitive advantage in the market. Companies that innovate to address climate challenges can open new revenue streams and gain a first-mover advantage.
With this in mind, the urgency for corporates to embrace IoT technology becomes clear. By integrating IoT into their sustainability strategies, companies can unlock a range of benefits that directly contribute to their long-term success.
How does IoT fit into the corporate sustainability agenda?
Now that you understand how prioritizing climate action impacts business success, let's see how IoT can be applied to help a corporate achieve its sustainability goals and secure a sustainable future.
1. Energy optimization and efficiency
Energy efficiency is a top priority for businesses today. With rising energy costs, growing environmental concerns, and an increasing emphasis on corporate sustainability, businesses are actively seeking ways to optimize their energy usage and reduce waste. This heightened focus on energy efficiency stems from recognizing that energy consumption impacts the environment and significantly affects the bottom line.
Fortunately, IoT technology offers businesses powerful tools to enhance energy efficiency and achieve sustainability goals. By incorporating IoT into commercial buildings, businesses can leverage the capabilities of sensors, actuators, cloud-based software, and communication protocols layered and controlled by a central building management system (BMS) that helps optimize systems and promote efficient operations.
For example, IoT-enabled sensors can monitor occupancy levels in different areas of the building, allowing for intelligent lighting and HVAC controls. Lights and climate control systems can automatically adjust based on real-time occupancy data, ensuring energy is only consumed when needed. This helps reduce energy waste in areas with low or no occupancy, such as meeting rooms or unused spaces.
2. Waste management
In today's business landscape, waste management policies extend beyond financial savings and operational efficiency. Ethical business owners prioritize waste reduction strategies and invest in modern commercial garbage disposal equipment to protect the environment.
A crucial element of effective waste reduction strategies is harnessing IoT-based smart waste management systems. By integrating IoT-enabled devices into commercial garbage disposal equipment, businesses can accurately monitor and track waste generation, collection, and disposal activities.
Moreover, integrating IoT-based smart waste management systems in manufacturing and industrial sectors yields significant benefits in waste reduction, resource optimization, and cost savings. By leveraging the power of IoT technologies, businesses can amplify their sustainability efforts, minimize their environmental impact, and actively contribute to a more circular and efficient economy.
3. Indoor air quality
For a long time, indoor air quality (IAQ) has been neglected compared to outdoor air pollution. However, the misconception that indoor air pollution is harmless is unfounded. Indoor environments can have pollutant concentrations ten times higher than outdoor ones. Shockingly, studies have revealed that poor air quality in workplaces contributes to over 800,000 deaths annually.
Aside from the significant health risks, poor air quality in the workplace can also harm employee productivity and well-being. For this reason, implementing strategies to enhance IAQ is crucial, and one practical approach is the integration of IoT-enabled devices and systems. These IoT technologies can effectively monitor and manage various aspects of IAQ, including air quality, temperature, humidity, and ventilation. All while optimizing energy use.
4. Water management
The global increase in population has led to a corresponding rise in the demand for water resources. Unfortunately, this demand is not being met, and according to the World Bank, approximately 40% of the global population resides in water-scarce regions. It is also estimated that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will experience absolute water scarcity.
This water scarcity situation can harm businesses, particularly those in water-intensive industries. It can result in higher water costs, operational disruptions, and even the need to halt operations altogether. Therefore, businesses must adopt measures to manage water resources and minimize wastage effectively.
One solution lies in deploying IoT technology. Companies can monitor water usage in real-time by utilizing IoT-based systems and sensors. These IoT devices can collect data on water consumption, pressure, temperature, and other relevant parameters. This data can then be analyzed to identify patterns, detect leakages, and optimize water treatment processes. As a result, businesses can minimize wastage, conserve water, and make informed decisions to ensure sustainable water practices.
5. Data-driven decision making
Data-driven decision-making is a cornerstone of business success and growth in today's data-driven world. Research conducted by McKinsey has shown that organizations that utilize data to inform their decision-making processes are more likely to achieve profitability and effectively retain and acquire customers than those who do not embrace this approach.
Data-driven decision-making is especially critical in corporate sustainability. With IoT devices and sensors collecting real-time data on energy consumption, resource utilization, and emissions, businesses have access to a wealth of information to drive their sustainability efforts. By analyzing this data, businesses can gain insights into their environmental impact, identify areas for improvement, and implement targeted strategies to reduce their carbon footprint and enhance their sustainability performance.
However, it's important to note that data-driven decision-making is not the sole solution to sustainability challenges. Instead, a holistic approach should complement it, including setting clear sustainability goals, engaging employees and stakeholders, and implementing appropriate technological and operational solutions.
Make your business more sustainable with IoT
The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized the business landscape, offering numerous benefits to companies. Beyond streamlining operations and driving innovation, IoT presents a unique opportunity for businesses to embrace sustainability practices. The decreasing costs of high-quality IoT sensors and wireless devices have made it increasingly feasible for companies to adopt environmentally responsible business processes.
As the world faces pressing environmental challenges, businesses must proactively reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future. While embracing sustainability through IoT adoption may require initial investments, the long-term benefits are significant.