If you’ve been following our blog, you may already be familiar with our perspective on how Internet of Things (IoT) sensors are on the verge of transforming the way businesses approach sustainability:
Rather than relying on subjective, qualitative measures of sustainability, businesses will increasingly use IoT environmental sensors and analytics platforms to remotely monitor building conditions and performance, giving them an abundance of data necessary to show demonstrable—and quantifiable—improvement with respect to specific objectives over time. (You can read more about this new approach here.)
Sustainability efforts largely revolve around the core concepts of energy, air, and water; IoT sensors can continuously monitor, measure, and catalog data related to each of these areas. Below are the types of environmental sensors matched with the relevant sustainability metrics outlined in this article that will help you assess your performance in those key areas—and determine if your current sustainability strategy is paying off.
For Energy Consumption:
1. Current Transducers (CT)
Do you know how much of your building’s total power usage is attributed to lights, machinery, and operating equipment? A current transducer applied to each of these components can tell you exactly how much power they draw, as well as when that energy is consumed. Having that data and associated timestamp gives you a better understanding of your building’s load signature. You may find that your consumption patterns are connected to a high production run rates, the building’s level of occupancy, weather conditions, or something else. Studying these patterns and connections will likely reveal insights that could be used to reduce your consumption and operating costs.Do you know how much of your building’s total power usage is attributed to lights, machinery, and operating equipment? A current transducer applied to each of these components can tell you exactly how much power they draw. Click To Tweet
2. Smart Electricity Meters
A smart meter is a mechanical device that continuously monitors and measures the quality of the power coming into your facility. In short, power quality refers to the characteristics of power supply that enable electrical equipment to work properly. Low quality power means your building is operating inefficiently—and your utility company is likely charging you more as a result. It may also be reducing the lifespan of your equipment. By using a smart meter, you can be proactive about mitigating wasteful energy use, which simultaneously reduces your utility bill and extends the life of your equipment.
For Indoor Air (Climate) and Employee Health & Safety:
3. Particulate Matter Sensors
Indoor air quality monitoring can help you achieve a healthier, more productive environment for your employees. One of the common pollutants to test for is particulate matter, or PM. PM is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets suspended in the air, such as dust, pollen, smoke, and soot; it is responsible for a number of respiratory health issues. A particulate matter sensor can sense the presence of PM; if it detects a level outside the normal range, your system can be set up to trigger a text alert to the responsible parties.
4. VOC Sensors
Another category of common pollutants is volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. VOCs are organic chemicals emitted as gases from products or processes; for the most part, you can smell their presence. VOCs are generally measured with IoT sensors in the context of “TVOCs” or “total VOCs,” because it is nearly impossible to classify the exact makeup of VOCs.
5. Carbon Monoxide Sensors
In contrast to VOCs, carbon monoxide is impossible to smell, taste, or see. At low and moderate concentrations it could cause fatigue, chest pain, or impaired vision; at high concentrations it could be fatal. Carbon monoxide sensors are more urgently needed for certain types of facilities, for example, one that includes a garage with trucks frequently going in and out.
6. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Sensors
Carbon dioxide may not be the most pernicious factor impacting indoor air quality, but studies have shown that high CO2 levels can certainly contribute to occupant discomfort, drowsiness, and diminished cognitive abilities (and therefore lower productivity), so CO2 monitoring is extremely important. But monitoring CO2 levels isn’t just about air quality—it can also help with your energy consumption metric because it is an indicator as to whether you are over- or under-ventilating your facility. (Read more here.) By monitoring CO2 levels and providing ventilation on an as-needed basis, you can maintain healthy air quality and reduce your energy use.
7. Methane Gas Sensors
If your facility uses gas for heating or production, then methane gas sensors are a wise investment. Methane is an odorless gas and is extremely flammable. A sensor will detect if it is present in your facility at a dangerous level.
8. ORP Sensors
The quality of the drinking water in your building is another important component of employee health and safety. The oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) essentially measures the ability of water to break down contaminants; ORP sensors are sometimes used to measure the dissolved oxygen in water. High ORP levels indicate that the water is not capable of supporting bacteria, so this measurement is useful in determining the overall quality of a particular water supply source.
For Water Usage/Waste:
9. Water Flow Sensors/Pulse Meters
Pipe leakage is responsible for a significant amount of water loss in industrial/commercial facilities and public water systems, too. Water flow sensors measure the flow of water through a pipe and its rate of change. Pulse meters are helpful in understanding the rate of normal flow, and therefore present a way to detect when the normal rate changes. In manufacturing facilities, flow sensors can be used to measure the volumetric flow rate of any liquid, gas, or steam. Changes in flow rate may be an indicator of pipe leakages or other operational malfunctions, giving you a chance to address problems before too much water is wasted.
Get Started Measuring Your Sustainability Efforts
If you’d like to learn more about how IoT environmental sensors can help you reach your company’s sustainability goals, talk to us at Iota. We’ll work with you to determine what’s best to measure and design an IoT sensor module tailored to your specific needs. We’ll also help you decipher all the data from your sensors, offering guidance and recommendations around how best to reach your goals. Set up a discovery call with us today, and let’s get started documenting your progress toward sustainability.