Envio in the Media

Can IoT Create a More Sustainable Future?

By October 13, 2020 November 4th, 2020 No Comments

Jason Witkowsky | unissu themes

A driving force behind the growth of the IoT (internet of things) is doing things in a better way. Whether added convenience, improved efficiency, or increased productivity, IoT adds automation to our everyday life. However, the value of IoT has pivoted due to the pandemic.

Through the often nonstop collection of data, we are able to understand our current environment in ways that were previously impossible.

At a basic level, IoT gives us a better idea of what’s happening in real-time. Through the often nonstop collection of data, we are able to understand our current environment in ways that were previously impossible. We’re also able to connect to our world at a wide variety of inputs and levels from smart thermostats to automobiles, coffee machines, and more all through a few finger taps.

We’ve seen a lot of interesting changes come out as the normal becomes remote work. Whether the growth of technologies like Zoom and Slack or the reduced carbon emissions, what we’re doing now and what we’re going to do next remains hard to predict. Especially in the PropTech and commercial real estate sectors.

But the question remains, can IoT create a more sustainable future? The short answer is potentially yes, but we have some road to cover first.

The LoRa Alliance is one way that we’re making progress towards this. A non-profit association of more than 500 member companies, the LoRa Alliance is committed to enabling large scale deployment of Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) IoT through the development and promotion of the LoRaWAN open standard.

One of the major challenges in IoT is interoperability.

One of the major challenges in IoT is interoperability. If sensors operate on different platforms or apps or only speak in a unique language, then they face scaling difficulties due to integration challenges which subsequently drives costs up. API (Application programming interface) integration is necessary or else IoT will never become truly usable.

Another challenge is measurement. There needs to be a baseline that can be understood and hopefully agreed upon, globally. For example, RESET is an international standard for data quality used to quantify the health performance of real-estate in real-time and can only work when sensor data is standardized.

This is a responsibility of software platforms that can no longer be ignored or placed onto the backburner. While there is a lot of focus on health and comfort due to the pandemic and how best to reach a desirable level of safety in commercial buildings through technology, we can build truly smart buildings that incorporate health, safety, comfort, and sustainability if we do it right.

To commit to sustainability, IoT needs to be a foundational element for three main phases:

  1. Build a plan.
  2. While this may seem overwhelming, most IoT tools already in use have an element of sustainability to them. For example, universal IoT controllers combine metering, sensing and automation capabilities to monitor and control various aspects of an environment. If you tap into these to connect various sensors for commercial buildings, all the data you need is already at your fingertips.
  3. Measure success.
  4. Taking an initial measurement of elements and usage and then using it as a benchmark for future environmental conditions is the only way to see if your plan is working. Best case? Your plan is working better than you hoped. Worst case? You need to tweak your plan.
  5. Compare to others.
  6. This post-pandemic life is new to all of us, although utilizing IoT for the greater good is more familiar to some than others. To truly know how buildings are doing in terms of sustainability, we need to be able to make comparisons. While standardization is important for this, it’s also vital to have open and honest communication and transparency.

It’s a race to get to a better world, one where sustainability is a foundational element in all that we do instead of an afterthought.

A sustainable future doesn’t need to only exist in dreams. Through IoT, we have the technology available to track where we are and how to get to where we want to be. As of October 1, residential and commercial buildings in New York City that are 25,000 sq ft or larger are required to post a letter grade near a public entrance. The grade, ranging from A to F, is a display of how energy efficient a location is. A step towards transparency, these grades are based on the United State Department of Energy’s Energy Star score.

While gamification is always a good motivator to be better, this isn’t so much a competition against each other. It’s a race to get to a better world, one where sustainability is a foundational element in all that we do instead of an afterthought. Fortunately, IoT can get us there much faster than the pace we’ve been going.