SMBs MAKE UP about 90% of all businesses, according to the World Bank, but haven’t had the resources to address sustainability as larger organizations have. Now, however, sustainability requirements are moving down the value chain. Larger companies that must reduce their Scope 3 emissions (indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain) are passing those commitments down to suppliers, including SMBs, says Kim Arrington Johnson, head of sustainable technologies research for ABI Research.
In addition, the U.K., EU, and U.S. have disclosure rules in place or planned for SMBs, Johnson points out. “These commitments are flowing into requests for proposals and contracts with suppliers, including SMBs, for all companies in the value chain to reduce their carbon emissions.”
Fortunately for SMBs, implementing Internet of Things devices is a cost-effective way to reduce environmental impact for even the smallest companies.
“Some simple sustainability use cases that everyone can identify with are smart meters, including smart lighting and HVAC in buildings,” says Johnson. Lighting and HVAC systems account for about 60-80% of a building’s energy use. “IoT sensors can be embedded into lighting controls and HVAC zones, providing feedback for optimizing energy use with an automated building management system,” she adds. The savings from each building, multiplied globally, could be significant.
Today, “39% of SMBs use at least one energy management device, like a smart thermostat, smart lighting, or smart plugs,” says Chris White, research analyst at Parks Associates. A small business can save over $440 a year on electric rates, on average, with a smart thermostat, he adds.
Conserving and managing water use with smart meters is another way IoT can help, according to Dima Feldman, vice president of product management and marketing at Sony Semiconductor Israel. “Smart connected meters help save 37% of water loss in South Africa,” he notes. Before IoT, water leaks were not detected until a significant amount of water was lost.
For supply chains moving sensitive goods such as food, chemicals, and vaccines, smart trackers provide the ability for companies to notice and fix logistics problems faster and make the entire process more efficient.
In agriculture, IoT makes possible “smart, indoor farming,” which drastically reduces resource usage by controlling soil attributes, humidity, and temperature, and relies on smart LED lighting to provide the best light frequency for each plant. “Several additional technologies, such as AI, cameras, and sensors that detect plant diseases are making these vertical farms even more profitable,” Johnson adds.
IoT sensors that monitor carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds in office buildings, schools, hospitals, and other crowded indoor settings help protect vulnerable populations while reducing harmful pollutants, continues Johnson.