The future of smart communities is green. Around the world, local government leaders are reimagining how they can deliver energy-efficient and sustainable infrastructure in their environments. The longer these challenges go unaddressed by leaders, the less confident communities are in their local governments' ability to support their needs.
Municipal leaders must focus on doing more than just getting their local economies back on their feet; they must foster robust economic revitalizations to regain community trust. Long-term success will result from municipal leaders who decide to build resilient infrastructure that prioritizes resident and planet health; IoT and smart city infrastructure is one way to advance and build out such initiatives.
Defining sustainability in municipal communities
There is a wide array of reasons municipal leaders are driven towards decarbonization, from mitigating the effects of climate change to green job creation to community activism and a push for environmental, social and governance accountability.
Most municipal leaders define "sustainability" as economic health, innovation in their communities, and climate measures. They define "social sustainability" as addressing homelessness and childcare issues, racial equity and impactful progress and energy justice; and "resiliency" as economic vibrancy, pandemic and crisis response and predictive analytics.
Together, these definitions illustrate the smart city, as well as the smart, sustainable and safe buildings that comprise them. Simply put, you cannot invest in smart cities without prioritizing sustainability, and vice versa.
Whatever their reason, public sector professionals are ready to make strategic investments to develop net-zero emission buildings and support healthy people, healthy places and a healthy planet.
Nearly 72% of organizations identify sustainability as an increasing priority, and it's clear that investing in smart buildings is an impactful way for communities to begin their sustainability journeys, according to the Johnson Controls Energy Efficiency Indicator Survey.
The role of IoT technologies in sustainability
Connected buildings and IoT technologies will play a vital role in decreasing energy use while increasing residents' quality of life. Johnson Controls researchers noted 85% of organizations are investing in smart building technology to reduce energy costs.
These smart utility technologies include self-regulating lighting and temperature systems, touchless access controls that allow occupants to move seamlessly throughout their environment and smart waste and water management systems to prevent unnecessary resource use. Smart buildings are composed of a wide variety of systems that are interconnected through data to create comfortable conditions, calibrate energy settings and track resource use.
From water conservation methods such as smart meters, to renewable energy sources like solar photovoltaic arrays, to energy-efficient hardware such as LED lighting and temperature systems that self-regulate based on space occupancy, smart buildings support community-wide decarbonization while enhancing residents' quality of life.
Communities across the country are experiencing the peace of mind that comes with knowing their health and safety are a priority.
The village of Patchogue, N.Y., serves as a case study in energy efficiency and sustainability. With aggressive sustainability and net-zero emission goals, the community needed upgrades to support their future-forward approach to building conditions.
Patchogue leaders worked to install solar PV panels, oil-to-gas conversion assets, new boilers, updated building controls, indoor air quality enhancements, solar carports with electric vehicle charging stations and upgraded outdoor lighting.
With these advancements, the community's spaces aren't just more energy-efficient. Now, community leaders have data and smart infrastructure to know how their resources are used and gather infrastructure data to make life better for residents.
Lisa Brown is Senior National Director for Municipal Infrastructure and Smart Communities at Johnson Controls. She is responsible for growth of the local government and smart communities market globally, including the development of strategies, offerings and innovations for local government service and systems markets.