Not so long ago, sustainability was an abstract concept exclusively discussed among professionals in the environmental space. Today, sustainability is crucial for the business sector, as reducing the negative impacts of climate change has become important for nearly every aspect of a company’s operations and bottom line. These changes are occurring due to the implementation of new technology, especially within the industrial sector.
Many industrial brands have embraced this new business perspective. Leaders in manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, and construction not only understand their societal responsibility, they’ve discovered technology’s potential to achieve their sustainability goals while also increasing productivity and reducing costs.
The transportation industry is leading the charge for change, which is significant for a number of reasons. Transportation is the key cog in the wheel of commerce, as it literally connects everything in the supply chain together with trucks, trains, ships, and airplanes. Unfortunately, those modes of transportation end up emitting an enormous amount of greenhouse gas. In fact, 29% of overall U.S greenhouse emissions come from this industry. The good new is that technology provides an avenue to reverse the environmental damage. Advancements like electric vehicles, improved fleet maintenance, better fuel efficiency, and autonomous vehicles will reduce emissions.
All of those trucks and ships foster the movement of goods for another key player in the industrial sector: Agriculture. According to the World Wildlife Fund, this is the world’s largest industry, and by definition, one of the leading contributors of pollution. Farmers use over 60% of the earth’s freshwater, and the use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals causes severe environmental damage.
Technology can serve agriculture in much the same way it serves transportation. For example, the implementation of precision application equipment can reduce the amount of water and chemicals farms require. More so, cutting edge technologies such as robots, drones, and sensors can drive environmental improvements even farther. Experts point out that the benefits of technology for agriculture include reduced impact on natural ecosystems, less runoff of chemicals into rivers and groundwater, and safer growing conditions.
We may not realize it, but buildings and infrastructure are also central elements in the industrial sector. People work, shop, learn, and live in buildings – yes, we’re in them much of the day and night, which is why they’re responsible for nearly 40% of carbon emissions in the world. And most of those emissions are the result of operational carbon, which comes from the actual operation of a building after construction is complete. Operational carbon can include the emissions from heating, cooling, and lighting.
But there’s a bigger picture that must be addressed. As the world’s population increases, we will inevitably see more and more construction. Cities, states, and countries, in order to grow their economies, will add even more buildings and expand their infrastructures. That’s why we need technology that drastically reduces the environmental impact of construction.
To that end, the construction industry has started to implement early design processes and building information modeling (BIM,). In addition, augmented reality allows building owners to visualize their projects before they’re actually built, which helps to reduce rework, material use, resources, and overall energy consumption.
There is still much work to be done in order to create a healthier planet. It won’t happen tomorrow, but with the help of innovative solutions and technology, the industrial sector is doing their part.