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Sustainable Technologies for Businesses

Business and Environmental Technological Innovation

Sustainable technologies are gaining relevance across multiple European business and policy forums. Circular economy, carbon neutrality, smart solutions, energy efficiency, and waste management are gaining more and more significance in decision-making for all types of companies.

According to many experts and business leaders, sustainability is already a must that is being integrated into the mindset and core business of corporations. So… What’s missing? We need to take even more action and implement sustainability plans that cover the entire life cycle of services and products.

With technology also the backbone of corporate progress and innovation for the coming decades, this article will propose ideas for integrating it, as well as a brief overview of some of the current solutions.

Corporate sustainable policies make services and products more efficient. But also internal processes.

How to Approach a Sustainable Digitalization Process at an Enterprise Level?

There are different guidelines or directives that, according to corporate leaders in sustainability, can guide our business strategies. Let’s look at four of them below:

Detect the points of greatest impact

Let’s start by making a list of areas and processes that can be digitalized, and identify in which of them the most significant improvement can be achieved more directly.

Listen to customers… and employees

It is very likely that we already have some feedback on initiatives from our customers or business partners. But let’s not rule out an internal survey of proposals either: according to recent data, more than 60% of employees are also highly committed to implementing sustainability policies and actions.

How can disruptive technologies help us?

They will undoubtedly be an excellent ally to achieve a measurable and sustained impact over time. In this article, we will discuss solutions that Plain Concepts proposes to our corporate partners. Let’s not forget to frequently attend blogs, talks, and events where we can get first-hand useful information and listen to inspiring cases.

We all love it when plans go well

To do so, they must be realistic; have sufficient internal support, time, and budget; determine the metrics that will allow us to gauge their success; and finally, communicate the results obtained thanks to these initiatives.

Each achievement will be a milestone that we can publicize and celebrate as a brand. Achievements that will drive further steps towards that necessary, successful, and far-reaching transformation. For example, from Plain Concepts, we are proud to be able to present a section with a large number of the actions we carry out in terms of sustainability.

Examples of Sustainable Technologies

According to the consulting firm Gartner, cloud and carbon footprint measurement and energy network management software are two of the environmental sustainability technologies that will have «early mainstream adoption by 2025». Below, we discuss these and other technologies that contribute to designing a better world.

Cloud Computing: Cleaner and More Efficient Energy

Moving information to cloud services such as Azure can improve energy efficiency by up to 93%, and be up to 98% more efficient in carbon footprint than local servers.

In the case of Asisa Group, we were able to successfully migrate 3 Terabytes of databases (securely and without service interruption) from a physical Data Server to Azure. The resource savings and optimization in SQL Server alone was more than 50%, you can access all the information in our success story.

Digitalization vs. Paper: Avoiding Waste While Optimizing Processes

The data is overwhelming: 800 tons of paper are produced every minute, requiring wood, water, electricity, and other resources. Up to 50% of waste in many businesses is documents and printed matter, and the substances that are used in its manufacture or generated when it decomposes are much more toxic than CO2.

But thanks to technological solutions, we can increasingly reduce their use. Together with Trasmediterránea, we managed to implement a secure eco-friendly boarding system, without the need for contact or physical forms. More than 2.5 million boarding passes will no longer be needed each year thanks to this system.

But how can so much information be processed once it has been digitized? The answer also lies in Artificial Intelligence, which already allows, as in the case of AENOR, to classify and improve searches to make them accessible, relevant and streamline processes for both users and employees.

Water Management

Climate change is accompanied by droughts, floods… The lack or excess of water is transforming land and crops, while thousands of people have to migrate because of this situation.

To reverse this situation, or at least slow it down, technology can also be applied to the sustainability of the water cycle.

From flood risk warnings with information captured by satellites and analyzed with machine learning to smart metering to prevent leaks in buildings, smart technologies can be used to save water and leave a better world for future generations.

Carbon Emissions

Reducing Carbon Emissions

It is becoming increasingly common to see companies setting carbon neutrality targets for different dates: 2030, 2050… Technology is used to reduce these emissions or at least to store them and transform them into less harmful materials.

Factories for removing carbon dioxide from the air are now becoming popular. There is already one in Iceland that collects 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually and transfers it underground to be transformed into rock. Others are also under construction in Norway, the United Kingdom, and Spain.

Measuring Carbon Emissions

Carbon footprint measurement is the calculation of emissions from a company’s products or services. There are three emission scopes:

  • Scope 1: Direct emissions from owned or controlled sources.
  • Scope 2: Indirect emissions from purchased energy.
  • Scope 3: All other indirect emissions related to the value chain.

For Gartner, technologies that measure carbon footprint will become more popular as non-financial corporate sustainability reporting becomes more popular and companies become more committed to tackling emissions. Blockchain and IoT sensors can help by converting those emissions into tokenized carbon credits with which to offset their activity. The blockchain will also ensure the authenticity of the information.

5G

The expansion of 5G networks is not only beneficial for the business opportunities associated with its speed and reduced latency. For Bhushan Patil, senior vice president of EMEA, these networks will help improve sectors such as smart agriculture by improving the connection between agricultural equipment and obtaining more accurate real-time information about crops. This will reduce the amount of fertilizer, pesticides, and water, which will serve to curb climate change and the pollution of natural resources.

Datacenter Cooling

With dozens of machines connected and consuming power 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the energy expenditure of data centers to reduce the high temperatures of this infrastructure is considerable. Alternatives such as immersion coolers, in which a cold liquid circulates around the servers to cool them, save energy while creating quieter environments (goodbye fans) and less dust.

Artificial Intelligence

The Spanish Association for Digitalization, DigitalES, organized a debate on the sustainable future of AI in May 2022. It identified several challenges to address the development of sustainable AI, such as developing a catalog of best practices, finding and training the talent to create it, or funding to train ‘green’ models on supercomputing platforms

Science and Technology for Sustainability

Energy and utility companies are undoubtedly also focusing on efficiency, sustainability, and renewables. The European Union is setting targets of 32% renewables by 2030, climate neutrality by 2050, and is betting on the development of green hydrogen as another alternative source of clean energy.

Companies like Acciona are increasingly implementing these greener sources. With technologies such as Computer Vision and Big Data, it is also possible to help maximize production and minimize costs in this and other sectors.

This is also the case of Exolum (CLH) where Artificial Intelligence allowed better demand management, smarter maintenance, and instant leak detection.

Everything that has to do with the concept of “Smart Energy” is undoubtedly a paradigm that will continue to be relevant in the coming decades. Plain Concepts is also betting on it, with IoT platforms that serve to improve energy efficiency and generate Digital Twins, such as Smart Concepts.

Technology and Environment

We would also like to highlight technological initiatives for a better world that, as Microsoft partners, we support and disseminate. Like “AI for Earth“, with grants for projects and solutions that use Azure technology and Artificial Intelligence: to take care of forests, rivers, and endangered animal species.

Or the recent “The Ocean Cleanup” that uses Machine Learning and Azure technologies to identify plastics in rivers and seas, for their subsequent removal.

Technology To Raise Awareness of Sustainability: Virtual Reality

But technologies are not only sustainable because they make it possible to care for the environment or save resources. They also serve to raise awareness among the population.

In this sense, virtual reality is a very attractive form of technology for sustainability. A game or a documentary raises awareness about the future of the planet as much or more than a lecture through a playful and entertaining experience. For example, popularizer David Attenborough, known for his television documentaries, produced a documentary in 2015 to raise awareness about the deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts rewarded his work with a BAFTA award.

Sustainability and Recycling: Technologies

Recycling companies also find in technologies a way to improve material reuse processes.

There are robots that, with artificial vision and trained with AI, are able to distinguish objects on a waste platform and select them for recycling. Automation helps to sort waste and thus save time while helping to improve the environment.

Sustainable Innovation

Thanks to disruptive technologies such as those mentioned in this article, we can create a greener, more sustainable future… without sacrificing efficiency and business growth. This is a win-win scenario in which Plain Concepts continues to make all kinds of bets focused on the implementation of sustainable technologies, as you can see on our sustainability page.

Plain Concepts sostenibilidad

Jesús Lobejón
Author
Jesús Lobejón
Content Strategist

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