Statista estimates that the Asia-Pacific region produced 17.96 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2022, beating North America and all other regions.
Syed Najam us Saqib, a senior technical team lead – IoT Operations at Vision Valley in Dubai, believes that Yes, the Internet of Things (IoT) can play a significant role in addressing climate change challenges by providing data-driven insights, improving resource efficiency, and enabling smarter decision-making in various sectors. In his LinkedIn posts, he lists 13 use cases – an interesting read IMHO.
IoT driving green
The International Energy Agency (IEA) says the operations of buildings account for 30% of global final energy consumption and 26% of global energy-related emissions1 (8% being direct emissions in buildings and 18% indirect emissions from the production of electricity and heat used in buildings).
When incorporated into building automation systems (BAMs), Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are helping to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance building operations.
Lian Jye Su, chief analyst for applied intelligence at Omdia says the primary role of IoT technology in building and infrastructure energy consumption and monitoring is data collection. More and more enterprises are deploying an intelligent energy management system that can control energy consumption depending on ambient conditions and automatically report defects or malfunctions.
He adds that data from various IoT sensors are consolidated to provide a better picture of overall usage. He noted that the number of sensors being deployed is directly proportional to the granularity and comprehensiveness of energy utilization patterns.
“In some cases, drones and automated aircraft with infrared sensors have been deployed in industrial and commercial buildings to detect potential leakage and wastage,” he added.
Tsubasa Bolt, a senior ESD consultant for Surbana Jurong, explained that IoT devices are being used to monitor systems at a more granular level compared to traditional building management systems (BMS).
“One such example would be smart branch circuit monitoring systems or smart sockets. This allows for the monitoring of receptacle loads at higher resolution which can then be fed back to users to modify their behaviour to eliminate standby power.
“Smart lighting systems also have more granular sensor coverage which reduces the size of lighting zones (sensors are per fixture). This means that the sensors are monitoring and responding to much more localised occupancy and daylight which reduces overall lighting consumption,” he continued.
IoT in waste management and recycling
Asked in what ways is IoT contributing to the optimisation of waste management and recycling processes, Bolt pointed to IoT devices being used at weighing stations to monitor waste production at facilities where devices are fitting onto bins or at collection points where bags may be weighed.
He added that digital tracking and associated data provide critical insight into:
- The proportions of the different waste streams.
- Frequency of recycling bins contamination with non-recyclable waste.
- Opportunities for cost optimisation.
“With this data, interventions could be made upstream at the source of the waste with the aim of overall reduction. Contaminated recycling bins are also a major issue and data can be used to provide user feedback to educate and initiate behavioural change,” he elaborated.
IoT in air and quality monitoring
“Like IoT in energy consumption monitoring, air and water quality in urban environments are tracked through different sensors, such as humidity, chemicals, and light, to detect pollutants, turbidity, and hazardous content,” said Su.
Surbana Jurong’s Bolt confirms adding that these provide user feedback on various indoor air quality (IAQ) metrics (CO2, VOCs, PM2.5, PM1, Radon, etc.) to raise awareness on the importance of IAQ concerning human health in office spaces.
The WELL Certification standard, which allows organisations to demonstrate their commitment to the health and wellbeing of occupants, includes IAQ monitoring as achievable credits. IAQ metrics must be kept within specific thresholds which incentivise building operators to regularly maintain air handling unit filtration systems.
Another exciting application of IAQ sensor data is CO2 data as a data domain for airside system AI optimisers. Bolt explains that CO2 is a better measure of occupancy than traditional occupancy sensors since CO2 is correlated to the number of occupants.
“Aside from demand-controlled ventilation, this has the potential to ensure enclosed office or meeting room ACMV systems only operate when CO2 levels are rising instead of the triggering of motion detectors,” he continued.
When it comes to water quality, IoT devices could be deployed to obtain more granular datasets that can provide insight into the maintenance health of a distribution network. Bolt noted, however, that water quality generally has to be tested in a certified lab for verification.
IoT in supply chain
The supply chain is arguably one of the earliest use cases for IoT in the form of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Indeed, nearly everyone in the supply chain ecosystem depends on RFID tags to track product and equipment movement.
Chan Hsien Hung, vice president of Integrated Enterprise Services & Sustainability at AETOS, says transportation is recognized as a critical factor in Scope 1 carbon emissions within the supply chain.
“Without IoT integration, the management and measurement of carbon emissions would heavily rely on manual processes, introducing inaccuracies and inefficiencies,” he added. “Traditional methods like manual log books and even GPS tracking, while capturing digital data, often fell short by omitting crucial information such as fuel consumption, influenced by variables like vehicle efficiency, fuel type, and driver behaviour.”
He cites the integration of IoT sensors within AETOS fleet of 200 operational vehicles. “This IoT-driven approach enables real-time tracking through a cloud-based platform, offering a comprehensive and accurate overview of our environmental impact in supply chain operations.
“This not only enhances efficiency but also empowers us to make informed decisions aimed at reducing carbon emissions and advancing sustainable practices,” he continued.
IoT in transportation
The US government, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, defines sustainable transportation as low- and zero-emission, energy-efficient, and affordable modes of transport, including electric and alternative-fuel vehicles, as well as domestic fuels.
“IoT platforms help to track fuel usage better,” reveals Su. “They can identify driver behaviour, such as heavy acceleration or vehicle idling, increasing fuel costs, and contributing to emissions. Fleet platooning is also an area of autonomous trucking that many believe will reduce emissions by programming the vehicles to maximize fuel efficiency.”
AETOS’ Chan says in promoting sustainable transportation, IoT applications monitor driver behaviour in real time. “IoT sensors in our vehicles track events like harsh braking, fast acceleration, speeding, and idling,” he revealed.
“This information is crucial in influencing driving habits to improve fuel efficiency and subsequently reduce carbon emissions. Through the utilization of data from our advanced smart telematics system and increased data transparency, we observed a 20% decrease in negative driver behaviour and a notable reduction in carbon emissions.
“Any reduction in carbon emissions contributes to achieving carbon emission reduction certifications, which can be utilized for green financing,” he concluded.