Just when it seems that a delicate balance between economic efficiency and eco-friendliness is hard to strike, IoT sustainability solutions are proving nothing is impossible. While most of the IoT technology is applied in the enterprise and consumer segments, the Internet of Things is also used to power eco-friendly businesses across the world.
Moreover, the key to resolving the most pressing environmental problems may lie in leveraging green-tech to address global sustainability issues.
How IoT technology is making a positive impact on the planet, and how can you start a green business?
In this blog, we will go through the IoT use cases in environmental management and suggest some green business ideas. Read on to learn more!
The use of IoT in environmental sustainability is a growing trend, and the range of applications for this developing technology is also expanding. Let’s now take a closer look at environmental challenges that the Internet of Things helps to resolve.
Climate change is taking place as a result of poor energy management, air pollution, and harmful emissions. Fortunately, IoT technology is capable of controlling all of these factors.
By managing energy consumption, tracking air pollution levels and analyzing their causes, reducing harmful CO2 emissions by controlling traffic, IoT minimizes the greenhouse effect and helps to control the global change of climate.
Humanity is running out of water: according to the UN, billions of people could be facing water scarcity by 2025. IoT technology helps reduce water use by as much as 50% by eliminating pipe leakage and monitoring consumption.
Smart irrigation using IoT sensors is also one of the actionable means of resolving the water scarcity issue.
Agriculture is one of the most resource-intensive industries, which also has a great impact on the environment. With the Earth’s population growing and dietary demands constantly changing, agriculture companies are looking for means of increasing production with limited resources.
The use of sensors for collecting metrics about the state of soils, weather, plants, and farm animals, as well as farm equipment, is one of the examples of how IoT can improve sustainability and facilitate smart agriculture.
Smart waste management is also one of the most prominent IoT domains and an essential part of the smart city ecosystem. By placing sensors in waste bins, waste management companies can track when the bins are filled, schedule waste collection, and optimize driver routes. Such an approach is not only cost-efficient but also more environmentally friendly.
With so many animal species on the brink of extinction, technology has to come to the rescue. The recent successful cases of using IoT in helping re-establish some of the vanishing species, allow experts to be moderately optimistic.
IoT environmental sustainability solutions benefit the environment on a global scale. The collective effect is achieved through implementing ecology software that monitors resource consumption and facilitates waste management.
If you’re looking for some IoT startup ideas, these suggestions could set you on the right track.
1. Energy management software for commercial buildings
Smart energy management solutions assist enterprises and households in minimizing energy consumption and waste, which reduces pollution and the greenhouse effect and saves natural resources.
For example, Enlighted, is an IoT platform for commercial real estate, enables owners to customize lighting, cooling, ventilation, and heating in order to create an optimal environment for tenants. The platform is also equipped with movement sensors, helping to detect which area of a building currently needs more resources. Apart from offering comfortable workplaces, the software helps optimize energy use and reduce expenses.
2. Water control and monitoring systems
Drastically high amounts of water are lost every day due to pipe leakage. IoT-based systems for water control and management help identify the leaks in a timely manner, schedule pipe repairs, and avoid unnecessary expenses.
XiO is an example of such a system. The platform is cloud-based and equipped with analytic modules for insights into consumption and waste dynamics. XiO can be applied for drinking water, waste water, and agricultural irrigation water management.
3. Air quality monitoring
The quality of air inside a building is one of the crucial aspects of workplace security. Ensuring great air quality helps boost employee efficiency and maintain good health.
Furthermore, air quality systems for home use account for healthier domestic environments and positively impact sleep quality, as well as physical and emotional wellbeing. On top of that, such systems help monitor indoor CO2 levels and ventilate only when necessary, which also helps reduce energy consumption.
720 degrees is a platform for monitoring indoor air quality, and other aspects of the indoor environment of public, private, and commercial properties. The software features an analytics module and is compatible with other building maintenance systems.
Artveoli takes it a step further by actually providing a solution for cleaning the air from excessive carbon dioxide. Disguised as sophisticated wall-mounted art, the air panel converts CO2 into oxygen and helps maintain a healthy indoor environment.
4. Smart farming solutions
An umbrella term for an incredibly broad range of applications, smart farming is currently a promising niche for eco-entrepreneurs. Agritech and green tech are closely interconnected, and the cases for using IoT sustainable solutions extend through various aspects of crop and agriculture farming.
Solutions like Growlink, for example, leverage IoT monitoring to help farmers minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides and curb the negative impact on the environment.
Aerofarms, on the other hand, takes an unconventional approach by introducing indoor vertical farms, helping battle the worlds’ most pressing agriculture challenges such as water shortage, growing population, loss of arable land, and heavy use of pesticides.
5. Sustainability solutions for industrial IoT
IoT sustainability solutions help enterprises across industries save costs and control the state of their assets and resources all while becoming more environmentally friendly.
MAANA, for example, is a robust IoT analytics suite, used mostly by oil and gas companies to gain insights into their asset management and their processes. The platform collects data from all the enterprise silos to help management make informed decisions.
Quentic is an environmental management system that helps companies evaluate and manage the social, economic, and environmental impact of their businesses. The data obtained by the system can then be used both for internal purposes and for reporting to stakeholders and investors. The software features a comprehensive range of modules for managing employee health and workplace safety, monitoring hazardous chemicals, sustainability, the environment, controlling core work processes, etc.
6. Smart home software
Alternatively, if you are looking for green business ideas, you can develop consumer smart home solutions enabling residents to manage their domestic environment, air quality, waste, and energy consumption via a smartphone or a tablet.
Embue, for example, is a company helping apartment residents take control of their energy consumption, monitor the state of apartment building infrastructures like pipes and ventilation units, and prevent leaks and damages.
Curb is another solution helping homeowners and residents establish real-time circuit-level electricity monitoring, detect problems and control energy use.
7. Smart city management suites
From air pollution monitoring to traffic control, smart city solutions are also helping metropolitan areas become greener and environmentally sustainable.
Mobility and utility management, such as meter data control systems, lighting control, public safety, waste, and facilities management are some of the key elements of smart city infrastructure, and entrepreneurs can set up an eco-friendly business to address their pains.
An example of such a solution is WebNMS, a comprehensive suite for smart city management. The platform has all it takes to power modern smart cities and help them optimize energy use, monitor their assets, and control other facets of an urban ecosystem. The solution is suitable for enterprises as well.
8. “Green” mobility solutions
It’s no secret that private cars and public transport are responsible for air pollution in most urban areas. Green businesses, however, are already addressing this problem by offering alternatives.
For example, Citymapper is a mobile urban mobility app and a car-sharing service using IoT connectivity. By optimizing traffic usage, it helps urban communities reduce harmful emissions and improve air quality.
Facedrive is another mobility app with a slightly different concept: users get to choose which vehicle type they want to drive. If they go for a greener, hybrid type, the app informs them of the positive impact they are making with their choice.
GreenMobility goes one step further – it’s a 100% electric car-sharing service that features Renault Zoe and Renault Kangoo cars and helps people navigate around the city in an eco-friendly manner.
9. Waste reduction and management software
Waste management is a vast green industry business segment that can be successfully covered by eco-entrepreneurs and IoT startups.
Enevo, for example, is a smart waste management platform that uses sensors to monitor waste generation and offers solutions for waste collection and management. The product is applicable not only for municipal use but also for enterprises, restaurants, commercial real estate, and private residences.
Goterra is another waste management startup that targets processing organic waste. The idea is rather bizarre: by combining robotics and organics (read: maggots), the Goterra solution helps get rid of restaurant, kitchen, and domestic food waste.
As you can see, the range of IoT startup ideas for global sustainability is quite diverse and extends across multiple industries and facets of human activity. If you plan to launch a green business, below is a guide on building an IoT startup and making it thrive.
The sad truth is – many green-tech startups fail, and only a few make it and become successful. Most importantly, IoT startups have their specifics that set them apart from other new entrants on the green business scene.
If you’re wondering how to build an IoT startup, below are some important aspects your team should focus on.
Address your customer pains
As a technology, IoT is so fascinating, it can be easy to get carried away just by what it can do and entirely lose touch with customers.
One common mistake that IoT startups make is implementing unnecessary features and overlooking what customers really want. Before you hit the market with your new solution, make sure it helps users solve their real problems, rather than just providing the wow-effect.
Have a clear value proposition
At the initial stage, a lot of companies offer a list of product features, instead of verbalizing a clear and coherent product purpose.
As far as IoT environmental sustainability is concerned, it could be anything from “a smart meter helping customers control their energy consumption” to an “end-to-end environmental management system for enterprise use”, as long as the message conveys your product value.
Do not reinvent the wheel
Instead of trying to develop each feature or module of your IoT sustainability solution by yourself, look at already existing options out there. Chances are, there are complementary products that can be integrated with your app to offer users exactly what they want. Collaboration with other companies may, ultimately, help you deliver an outstanding product.
Build with scalability in mind
Plan for scaling your product to handle growing workloads from the very start. Pick a cloud infrastructure that will allow you to instantly scale as your user base expands. This is something that won’t be easy to do once your product is complete. The scalability issue could cause downtime and disruptions and hamper your product’s success.
Keep abreast of new market realities
A lot of startups wrongly assume competitor analysis is something you do at the ideation stage – only to discover a pack of newly-emerged rivals has hit the market while they were busy with product development.
Have someone on your team continuously monitor emerging startups in your green business segment and be capable of adapting to new business realities. Likewise, keep your hand on the pulse of emerging technologies: they could change everything.
Make the most of data
IoT is all about data, but are you leveraging all of it? Take a closer look at other ways that your startup can use data: could you be missing out on some of the monetization opportunities, or could you offer your users some of the additional insights they would benefit from?
Now, let’s get straight to the point: what steps should you take if you want to launch a green business and bring your IoT startup idea to life?
Step 1: Break your idea down into clear formulated goals
This is an important step that would involve answering questions like which features you want your app to have, and how many of them you will include in its MVP version. By the end of this stage, you should have your product description outlined, and be ready to discuss it with your team.
Step 2. Estimate user feedback
Look for potential users that might be interested in your product. If they’re easy to find, it’s a good sign your product will be in demand. It will also enable you to test your app MVP version and attract early adopters.
Step 3: Write a product specification
The development team will need a detailed description of all product features to fall back on, as they build your ecology software. This document should contain all functional and non-functional product requirements and provide clear guidelines for developers.
Step 4. Create a product design
IoT products come as a combination of hardware and software parts. The hardware part usually takes measurements, tracks metrics, and collects data, while the software part is built for data processing and visualization.
Hence, creating your product design will involve designing both hardware and software parts. How users will perceive your product is an important aspect to understand and will aid you in creating an attractive design. When designing the hardware, pay close attention to device materials, dimensions, and production costs.
Step 5. Build a prototype
Now you’re all set to create a product prototype. The goal of this stage is a proof of concept: checking how your app UI and your device will work, as well as pinpointing and eliminating all the shortcomings. At this point, your hardware design doesn’t matter, as long as the prototype has all the sensors and electronics in place.
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Step 6. Start software development
The software development lifecycle for a green-tech IoT project is essentially similar to any other industry-specific app development. Testing should also be an integral part of this stage, so it’s important to map out all the possible scenarios and work with a professional QA team.
Step 7. Build a 3D model
This step involves creating the first units of your device, and in order to do this, you will need the design and technical specifications of every hardware component. You may use a 3D printer or any other production facility to build your product and start beta testing.
Step 8. Release an MVP
An MVP release is a major milestone. Launching it will enable you to accomplish a number of goals:
- testing your product for user acceptance,
- collecting user feedback,
- assessing your product functionality, and
- rethinking some of the functionality and features.
If your MVP gets favorable customer feedback and wins the next round of investments, you may proceed with end product development.
Step 9. Development, marketing, and support
Your end product development may take up to several months and should be supported with a marketing campaign in order to attract your potential customers and retain early adopters.
From then on, you will never stop working on your product – you will have to stay dedicated to continuous updating, maintenance, and support.
The green-tech market is expanding, predicted to reach $36.6 billion in 2025, and growing at a CAGR of 26,6%. With global sustainability solutions being in high demand, launching a green business has promising commercial potential.
Bringing your idea to life, however, will require a professional development team, with solid expertise in IoT development. Partnering with a reliable development company will enable you to go through all stages of hardware and software development and launch an eco-friendly tech solution that will have a positive impact on the planet.
Have questions about environmental sustainability solutions development? Contact us now for a brief consultation!