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How Can Artificial Intelligence Make Your Company Greener?

In Air Quality, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Climate, Sustainability, Tech4Good by Annie Button

Related to UN SDG:
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When it comes to buzzwords in the tech industry, few are making headlines quite like artificial intelligence. From ChaptGPT to Google’s Bard, soon it seems as though we’ll never have to think for ourselves again.

Of course, the reality is, that while AI has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, the need for humans to use it remains essential, for now at least. But, the global AI market is expected to grow by 37% from 2023 to 2030, suggesting that we are going to be leaning more heavily on this technology as time goes by.

Besides conversational bots, another developing trend in artificial intelligence is sustainable AI. But what is it, how can sustainable AI make your company greener, and what is the impact of your digital carbon footprint? Let’s take a closer look.

What Is Sustainable AI?

Sustainable AI uses artificial intelligence technology to support and promote sustainable business practices to make them more environmentally responsible. We can use AI to monitor and regulate energy consumption to fall in line with organizational limits or track pollution levels to help companies become more aware of their environmental impact and create a strategy to reduce it.

Is AI Itself Sustainable?

While we can use artificial intelligence as a sustainability enabler, it’s also important to note that AI itself is quite energy intensive. In particular, large AI models require a lot of energy to train and run, with vast amounts of data and computing power being the main drain. This means that companies will have to account for the energy required by their AI systems when measuring their sustainability levels.

There is also a conversation needed regarding the ethics of AI tools. Justin Aldridge, Technical Director of the UK’s no.1 SEO company for small businesses, Artemis, explains, “In March there were over 1,000 new AI tools launched, covering all sorts of real-world applications based on the foundations set up by ChatGPT.”

Aldridge adds, “The onslaught of AI tools has also opened up an entire argument as to the ethics behind these tools (they use content found online to generate their responses, yet they mostly don’t credit the sources) and also the fact that they are mostly open to everyone, regardless of age”.

Reducing Energy Consumption and Emissions

One of the key areas we can use artificial intelligence to make our businesses more sustainable is through energy consumption and measuring emissions. AI applications are perfect for balancing the supply of electricity or energy with demand in real-time. These applications optimize energy use with this in mind and can also take great care of storage solutions to reduce rates.

This type of AI energy consumption is going to become more essential as we move towards alternative energy sources, with companies relying on their renewable or generated energy stores more heavily. The power network is likely to become more decentralized than perhaps we’ve ever seen, which will make managing supply complex, particularly for businesses with multiple facilities or properties to oversee and maintain.

We are already seeing, however, the positive impact AI can have in making companies more sustainable. For example, Google is heavily dependent on its technological infrastructure to keep its many data centers up and running around the world.

With global data centers requiring huge amounts of energy, one of the largest users of them needed to find a solution. Google partnered with leading AI business DeepMind to cool its data centers more efficiently, reducing the energy consumed by a colossal 40% following the switch.

Waste Reduction

Waste is a common problem for companies of all shapes, sizes, and industries. A business can greatly enhance its waste management by adopting the use of AI, in various departments. For example, we can use AI leak detection in the form of computer vision to detect leaks of water or harmful chemicals during production at a plant or factory.

A dripping faucet can waste almost 4 gallons per day, which adds up to approximately 1,450 liters in a year. The AI-powered detection system can spot this leak and alert the correct authorities to fix the issue immediately, helping businesses to reduce their environmental impact, particularly where harmful chemical leakage is concerned.

But that’s not all, food waste in the hospitality sector is a common problem for restaurant owners to manage in their kitchens. Food waste technology experts, Winnow, predict that kitchens waste between 5-15% and have successfully implemented their tech to reduce food waste at the Hilton Tokyo Bay by 30% – saving more than 17,000 meals annually.

The food waste management software tracks, measures, and controls kitchen waste data to help hospitality companies pinpoint their inefficiencies. This technology uses various methods to identify food waste reduction opportunities, from motion sensor cameras that record food waste from plates to connected scales and menu templates to help maximize inventory.

Helping Develop Sustainable Products and Processes

We can use machine learning to vastly improve the inspection success rate of production lines, discovering defective products that existing quality control systems may miss. This is a useful way to help make your company greener because it cuts down on the number of returns from customers due to defects, which in turn can help to enhance your reputation.

Approximately $6.27 billion of waste is generated through returns, equating to millions of tons of CO2 emissions shuttling products back and forth.

AI-enabled computer vision systems can be put in place to more accurately determine faulty products, reducing the number of faulty products sent into the world and reducing emissions from the reverse logistics involved. It can also provide companies with an opportunity to salvage or repurpose those faulty products before they leave the factory floor.

Tracking Sustainability Performance

The more that businesses aim to comply with environmental regulations and targets, the more they will have to understand their sustainability performance. Experts at AI deep-learning technology firm, Tractable, explain, “AI-powered software can provide a new level of business intelligence that helps you track your performance on key metrics like carbon emissions, water usage, and more.”

Adding, “As a result, you can join the increasing number of companies publishing detailed annual CSR reports and show your solidarity with consumer sentiments.” By digitizing processes and integrating data sources, AI streamlines business operations and energy performance using all of that information to make smarter decisions.