Earth Day 2018: 5 Acts of Green

By | 4 minute read | April 20, 2018

It’s Earth Day on the 22nd April, which means it’s time to focus on looking after our planet. The Earth Day Network is doing a fantastic job at bringing people together to tackle major environmental challenges by committing to small, individual ‘Acts of Green’. They’re running multiple campaigns, from reforestation and protecting endangered species through to climate change, and one of the major themes this year is reducing pollution through reducing plastics.

There are some great IoT-driven initiatives aimed at tackling plastics. Like this one from the University of Oldenburg, Germany, which uses connected buoys to study the movement of floating plastic in the North Sea. And this one, which uses IoT technologies to give San Francisco residents better insights into their waste habits.

Sustainability as an imperative is something that’s also close to our hearts at IBM, so we thought we should join in with a few IoT-flavored ‘Acts of Green’ of our own. Here they are!

1: Smart buildings waste less

Did you know that buildings consume 42% of all electricity? The problem is not only that their energy consumption is high – it’s that much of it is needlessly wasted. Here, the IoT can help. Smart buildings use connected sensors to monitor energy consumption in real-time. By applying analytics and artificial intelligence to sensor data, they can identify operational weak links and suggest changes to reduce waste.

Modern buildings. Photo by chuttersnap on

Smart buildings enable greater efficiency in consumption

IBM’s Watson IoT for buildings solutions capture data from connected sensors, use AI to provide recommendations, and bring everything together with TRIRIGA facilities management software. ISS, one of our clients, is transforming the management of more than 25,000 buildings worldwide with Watson IoT for facilities management.

2: A method for monitoring city air pollution

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that outdoor air pollution causes 4.3 million premature deaths per year. To help monitor the scale of the problem, IBM is working with natural gas producers on an intelligent methane monitoring system to detect pollution in real-time. We hope that the next five years will see sensing technologies deployed near natural gas extraction wells and along distribution pipelines to pinpoint invisible leaks. Continuous sensor data will be combined with artificial intelligence to provide insights into managing gas production and preventing leaks in the future.

A polluted cityscape. Photo by Alex Gindin on

A polluted cityscape

3: Smart transport for smart cities

The WHO estimates that road transport is responsible for ‘up to 30% of particulate emissions’ in European cities, and 50% in OECD countries. Congestion on busy streets is a major contributor, and smart parking solutions can help by alerting drivers to available spaces. Meanwhile, electric vehicles like Olli, our self-driving shuttle bus, help to drive down reliance on fossil fuels within the automotive industry. And because smart cities should be smart for everyone, our #AccessibleOlli project is helping provide transport solutions to people with vision and hearing loss, mobile constraints and cognitive disorders.

Smarter transport is just one way of making cities greener. Check out the ‘cities of the future’ Earth Day campaign for lots more information on how technology can make sustainable cities a reality.

4: Reducing energy consumption in industry

Industry is responsible for 21% of greenhouse gases produced worldwide. IBM is working with industry leaders to reduce this figure, by monitoring and modernizing equipment to improve efficiency. Here are two stories from our clients:

The IBM Maximo Enterprise Asset Management system can help companies ensure their assets and processes are hitting the mark when it comes to efficiency. KONE is using IBM Watson IoT running on IBM Cloud to connect and remotely monitor over 1.1 million elevators and escalators worldwide. By analysing data from connected sensors, KONE can predict, identify and resolve issues before equipment breaks down.

As consumers, we can do our bit to reduce energy in our own homes too. Chameleon Technology is working with Watson IoT to help consumers make smarter decisions about their energy consumption, by tracking and predicting energy use. See how.

Emissions from a power plant. Photo by Veeterzy on

Emissions from a power plant

5: Protecting endangered species

Earth Day is about more than just human wellbeing – it’s about safeguarding animal life too. Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa is harnessing IBM Cloud, IoT and predictive analytics technologies to protect endangered rhinos from poachers. Connected collars monitor the behaviour of other animals to determine when a threat might be present.

It’s not just larger animals that need our help. Plankton, the greatest sequesters of carbon on earth, are in trouble, too. To help, we’re also working on a project to monitor plankton in their natural environment. AI-powered microscopes give a close-up view of their behaviour patterns, helping biologists intervene when things get rough.

Check out the ‘Endangered Species’ Earth Day campaign for more information about protecting biodiversity, and how to get involved.

Support Earth Day 2018

You can help support a sustainable, greener future by getting involved with Earth Day’s campaignsmaking a donation or creating your own ‘Act of Green.’ To learn more about IBM’s own work towards a sustainable future, take a look at our website, view our Earth Day slide share or read about our voluntary environmental initiatives.