Sustainability Analytics

Sustainability and Data Analytics

I found an excellent GreenBiz article that listed a variety of AI projects that were being utilized to progress sustainability initiatives.  An energy company, Xcel Energy, was utilizing artificial intelligence in their smokestacks to determine when nitrous oxide emissions were peaking.  They were able to create detailed prescriptive analytics that allowed the plant to adjust their operations to reduce the emissions while operating at peak efficiency. I thought this was a great example of how companies could take complex data that is unlikely to be managed by a human analyst and utilize AI to learn new things that may not have ever been understood with standard methods.

One of my favorite examples of the use of real-time analytics for sustainability purposes revolves around a Spokane-local company called APANA making big waves in water analytics. APANA created real-time meter sensors for water monitoring and have rolled it out for large clients like Costco and the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. Their real-time meters not only record detailed water data, but they have an advanced user platform that allows users to tap into the datasets as well as providing automated flagging. Costco was able to reduce water use by 22% and avoid reactive maintenance costs as well. Since their system collects so much data on water usage, they can determine whether a usage jump is within threshold for when the dishwasher is turned on for example. With this data they can determine whether machinery is going bad before it fully breaks just by the change in the rate of consumption versus historic trends. They can also tie water usage to a location’s operating hours to determine if leaks are occurring as well. APANA is a great example of a company utilizing real-time analytics and machine learning to increase sustainability and water conservation. Combining data analytics and sustainability is a great way to unlock new value and avoid waste.

Author: Logan Callen


Riffle, Conor. 2017. “What artificial intelligence means for sustainability.” GreenBiz, February 10, 2020.

Fehrenbacher, Katie. 2015. “This is how Costco is using data and sensors to cut water use.” Fortune, February 10, 2020.

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