The essential role of IoT in achieving sustainable facilities

Worldwide attention on sustainability is growing fast, and rightly so. As many organizations are increasingly contemplating the role they can, and should play in reaching sustainability goals, they will undoubtedly scrutinize their built environment. With its focus on maintaining, improving, and adapting the built environment to support an organization’s objectives, facility management is an important player in setting, measuring and attaining those sustainability goals.

The underlying goal of sustainable facility management is to decrease the impact on our planet and improve the health, wellbeing, and productivity of building occupants, both now and in the future. In this blog, we will discuss the positive impact that sustainable facility management can have on the physical and social environment, why this is more urgent for facility management than ever before, and the role that IoT plays in making sure that the sustainability vision is a success for organizations around the globe.

Sustainability: The Urgency

According to data from the United Nations Organization (UN), in 2050 about 68% of humanity will live in cities. However, cities barely represent 3% of the planet’s surface, and yet they consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce 60% of all greenhouse gas emissions. To address this, the UN has already approved the New Urban Agenda to make
cities more habitable, inclusive, healthy, resilient and sustainable places. And as new digital and intuitive technology becomes more readily available, this New Urban Agenda becomes more viable. For example, today we are already able to use data to optimize resources and facility management, and digitize our buildings, cities, behaviors and essentially our
entire environment. IoT is one of the major forces enabling us to accomplish this digitization and to enhance the utilization of devices and systems, with sustainability at the core. Organizations are quickly starting to realize that they can use IoT to reach their sustainability goals, spanning from improving the well-being of their building occupants to helping reduce waste and enhance processes and supply-chain workflows that affect the entire planet.

Why IoT for sustainable facilities?

A report published by Ericsson concluded that the use of IoT has the potential of reducing emissions by as much as 63.5 gigatons by the year 2030, should all industrial sectors participate. Consumers are passionate and vocal about sustainability as well, with as much as 87% preferring to buy from companies who are environmentally and socially responsible, and 76% willing to boycott companies who are not. IoT is destined to be an enabler that will help industries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and increase their energy efficiency. And not every sustainability initiative has to be a huge undertaking with a large budget. Just reassessing how you can infuse more sustainable actions in everyday processes and maintenance tasks can add up to huge gains for organizations in the long-term.

For example, lighting is one area that consumes a considerable amount of energy. Many companies are implementing measures to improve their lighting efficiency. With the use of IoT-enabled smart lighting sensors, lighting becomes smarter and more responsive, automatically turning on and off lights based on the presence or absence of people. These smart lights can detect the presence of occupants or can adjust the intensity of the lighting depending on the how much natural light is available, or based on the time of day or environment.

An IoT platform is key to this success!

To effectively begin tracking sustainability initiatives, you must have the basics in place. This requires the ability to collect accurate and timely data from the devices, assets, and behaviors you are trying to improve. IoT enables companies to gather the real-time information they need to set baselines. Access to historic data can also help organizations to refine protocols and reduce risk. By connecting software, devices and sensors into one integrated system, building managers gain the ability to monitor every aspect of the building, and gain business insights. Not only do managers have the data to make better decisions and report on performance, but they benefit by the ability to quickly react to issues, enabling them to set rules based on specific thresholds to monitor energy consumption and detect abnormal consumption. For example, if the HVAC is using more energy than normal, managers can immediately detect this in the IoT Platform, and call a technician before the HVAC breaks down to help reduce downtime and enhance productivity. You can learn more about the future of sustainability for Facility Management with IoT here.

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