We’ve already analyzed the booming sustainability trend earlier this year and predicted it wouldn’t slow down. And we were right—Bloomberg expects ESG-themed investments to surpass $41 trillion in 2022. Sustainable business practices seem to be more of a “must” than a “maybe” in the next decade. So, how can your company improve its ESG score and achieve net-zero faster than competitors? TEAM shares its expert tips on how to reduce your emissions with green approaches and technologies and make sustainability a part of your brand identity.
Top 7 ways to boost your business sustainability using Industry 4.0 technologies
Should we really call the application of sustainable practices in business a trend or rather a necessity for it to remain resilient? Practicing corporate responsibility ourselves, we admit the latter is true. But to get ‘greener’ results, you should unite your decarbonization and digital transformation strategies in one synchronized mechanism because technology is vital for your ambitious ESG targets. So, CIOs are the ones who will combine AI and sustainable development and effectively leverage IoT for business transformation.
Here are the most efficient sustainable business practices you can start implementing today.
1. Green your facilities
Opt for sustainable design to renovate your workspaces and accelerate decarbonization. The concept of green buildings can help divert over 80 million tons of waste from landfills. Moreover, it allows you to save resources and money, support employees’ well-being, and improve indoor air quality.
Tips to achieve the goal:
- LED + IoT
Install LED lights and IoT motion sensors to track physical presence and automatically switch off lighting when no one needs it. Introduce electricity monitoring apps to your staff where they can get notifications to shut the lights off when a room is empty or check power-saving statistics in real time.
- Natural paints and household chemicals
Use No-VOC interior paints to reduce airborne pollution and prevent people’s headaches, irritation, and other serious side effects that go unnoticed with VOC-based chemicals. Furthermore, consider buying reusable kitchen items and biodegradable, non-toxic cleaners and pesticides that will reduce your enterprise’s environmental impact.
- Even cleaner air
We have polluted enough air outdoors, so creating an ultra-low emission zone inside your office is a great idea. Design zero waste break rooms and creative green spaces with lots of plants to boost employees’ mood and productivity. It’s also another situation you can apply IoT in business sustainability projects. You can install sensors and monitoring software toolkits to collect air metrics and automate related data analytics.
- Optimized energy consumption
The level of phantom power consumed by your devices in sleep mode and when not in use makes corporate bills and carbon footprint indexes disappointing. So, we advise unplugging all cables possible and introducing programmable power strips that will automatically cut the power supply during non-working hours. Plus, it’s better to prepare your facilities for a ‘no fossil fuels future’ where an efficient all-electric infrastructure is a must.
- Comprehensive recycling program
Encourage your staff to recycle and reuse all relevant materials and commodities. Opt for modular office furniture so you can replace outdated elements or extend their lifespan. Sustainable business practices also promote repairing, recycling, and donating your technical and non-technical office equipment. You can implement waste management software to optimize your recycling programs.
2. Support eco-friendly transport
Besides obvious health benefits and substantial cost savings, Tesla cars set the trend people like to follow. Do you agree? It’s now ubiquitous to have electric vehicles.
You can promote numerous eco-friendly projects in these ways:
- Encourage your staff to adopt sustainable transport
- Put charging stations on the office parking lots
- Rent bicycles and electric scooters, and create special parking spaces
- Develop an internal gamification portal to reward workers who use environmentally friendly transport
- Launch an employee car-sharing initiative supported by a mobile app with a loyalty program and a matching algorithm
3. Favor sustainable packaging
You must’ve noticed that product packaging goes straight into a trash can as soon as people extract its contents. We’re lucky if it’s a paper one. But plastic boxes, for example, remain on the Earth for years if not recycled, adding to those 14 million tons of plastic that end up in the ocean annually.
That’s why packaging and containers from naturally decomposable materials are among the most widely used sustainable business practices globally. Along with posing no ecological and social threat, biobased packaging requires fewer resources and less money to produce and attracts both customers and investors.
4. Minimize paper usage
People use nearly 65 billion sheets of paper daily. One ton of paper equals around 7,000 gallons of water and 17 grown trees. Should we mention how much physical space your file cabinets occupy? So, when we praise the role of technology in sustainable development, one of the things we have in mind is autonomous document digitalization platforms.
Besides helping your employees do their job more efficiently, automated paperwork management significantly reduces paper waste and saves you around $8 billion yearly. Subsequently, your business will only profit from adopting sustainable business practices related to fully digital document processing.
Tips to achieve the goal:
- When usage is unavoidable, select paper made from recycled or natural materials
- Avoid printing non-essential documents and forsake junk mail
- Use online invoicing, CRMs, and supply chain tracking
- Recycle office paper as often as possible
- Implement intelligent automation and document digitization tools
- Create a virtual enterprise or a digital twin of your production
5. Preserve water
Water is the most valuable natural resource we have, so optimizing its consumption might be one of the main challenges for humanity. Industry leaders can greatly contribute to the cause. For instance, you can use IoT in business operations relying on water consumption within production premises.
6. Source renewable energy
Switching to alternative energy is one of the most popular sustainable business practices thanks to its long-term cost-saving benefits and ability to reduce carbon footprints significantly. Moreover, renewables are a very promising industry, with the global market size set to hit $1,977.6 billion by 2030.
Tips to achieve the goal:
- Apply the latest advancements in IoT for business transformation
- Use big data analytics for sustainable development
- Modernize your legacy power systems to connect with renewable energy sources
- Install smart grids that will suit your business conditions and locations
You can consider solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal power generators, biomass, or micro hydropower systems. Another good option is to buy renewables from reputable, certified vendors.
7. Invest in green technologies
Sustainable practices in the business field include elaborating an eco-friendly tech strategy. The ITC sector produces emissions, too, so you’ll have to reimagine your internal IT operations and identify areas for decarbonization. Work closely with your digitalization team to create a proper investment plan and outline the green tech your company will need for better sustainability.
Your IT department should:
- Incorporate the use of ethical AI for sustainable development and emissions tracking
- Define use cases for robotic process automation
- Create a data strategy to distinguish, collect, unify, and analyze your environmental data
- Map out the remote site monitoring infrastructure and processes
- Develop eco-conscious IT policies and define KPIs
- Move your infrastructure and data to the cloud
- Implement SaaS solutions to reduce carbon footprint and introduce green data centers
Capitalizing on going green: what are your prospects?
As you can see, dozens of market leaders apply sustainable business practices and still secure their billion-dollar revenues. Indeed, you’ll need substantial upfront investments to implement more environment-friendly operations through advanced technologies. However, going green boosts your ROI in return as PWC forecasts climate tech investments to witness a 210 percent annual growth.
As the global crisis deepens and the world plays Russian roulette, sustainability becomes crucial for most executives. So, regardless of whether you use IoT for business process optimization or start with ESG data analytics for sustainable development projects, you’ll reap tangible benefits in the long run. Just reinforce your strategies with digitalization to accelerate the transition to eco-conscious corporate culture. New-age technologies like big data, AI, and ML evolve rapidly, so you have many tools to build a profitable, efficient, and more sustainable organization.