Sustainability: Coming to a platform near you

This article is sponsored by Veolia.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings become more competitive every year, but the differences between them can seem trivial to the end user. As engineering and innovation professionals, we see the distinctions. But as environmental professionals, we also see something happening on a larger scale: They’re making entire communities more sustainable.

The state of as-a-service technology is reflected in the industries championing it, and we humbly volunteer our own. Sustainability is no longer a status belonging to a select few — it’s a platform that anyone, even a landlord, can control on-site and in real time. Here are three PaaS solutions that are making people smarter and the world more efficient.

Energy optimization

There are so many available sources of renewable power, yet so few ways to visualize (and maximize) their benefits. This is one of them.

State conservation goals aren’t just encouraging homeowners to invest in renewables; they’re calling for property managers to install submetering systems that hold occupants more directly accountable for their energy use. As a result, the modern tenant is exceptionally resource-conscious, and facilities need to keep up to keep their business.

Platforms such as EMsys — developed by SourceOne, an energy advisory company — make this easier. This service measures a building's power consumption and displays it on a dashboard that property owners can compare against their electric bills. By viewing data across diverse energy loads and time periods, the user can make adjustments that reveal savings by the hour, day, week and/or month. Learn more about this platform here, and in the video below:

Water collection

This platform uses the cloud to prepare for the storm.

Communities are increasingly managing green infrastructure, or that which is designed to protect the land it’s built on. A water treatment plant that replenishes groundwater is a great example. The problem is these systems can be difficult for cities to control manually on a regular basis.

Enter Rain:Net, a platform developed by OptiRTC that delivers rainfall and environmental data to the cloud, allowing custom algorithms to react ahead of the inclement weather and giving environmental professionals more visibility into their infrastructure. Currently being demonstrated by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), in partnership with Veolia Water Milwaukee, the platform uses a porous bedding to capture surface water and then controls when it’s released into the environment. It's now used at a Milwaukee Department of Public Works flood basin, among six other sites in Milwaukee, to capture surface runoff from local parking lots. Stormwater is stored to enable the infiltration and settling of pollutants from the water before being released into a local river. If a storm is predicted before the cycle is complete, water can be released ahead of time to enable more water capture.

Waste management

What if your garbage cans were online with every item logged? Don’t tell your computer’s recycling bin.

Colleges, medical researchers, and biotech organizations have something in common: They can produce tons of hazardous waste across many locations. While student science labs order gallons of chemicals each semester, product manufacturers need to ensure they’re not harming themselves or the environment when they’re moved or discarded.

CIMS, short for customer information management solutions, is a platform from Veolia North America that consolidates this data in a web portal, sorted by the material’s site, use and potential reuse. Waste generators can view all of their waste information profiles (yes, they’re also called WIPs) on one screen and report on their activity from beginning to end.

Whether it's the physical resource or the analytics you use to understand it, the process of making a building, utility system or continent more sustainable should be as advanced as the platforms we’re already using. For us, this is the state of as-a-service technology, and it is the way forward in a world where convenience is critically important to a community’s future.