Photo: Abhinav Sunil

Current conversations about AI technologies and environmental sustainability often focus on how compute-intensive AI workloads are and how they increase carbon emissions. But with the advent of generative AI, immense potential is emerging for the technology to aid in environmental sustainability efforts, such as:

  • Measurement and reporting. AI can introduce automation into carbon-footprint calculation, monitor emissions in real time, and generate timely recommendations, including what-if scenarios and even net-zero pathways. These efforts, which often take multiple hours and complex data analysis in spreadsheets, are ideal candidates for generative AI. Data analysts also see benefits in monitoring supply chain emissions and creating accurate scope 3 emissions analysis. For those who don’t want to DIY their solution, carbon accounting platforms such as Persefoni, Position Green, FigBytes, and others are integrating generative AI for measurement or creating natural language reporting output.
  • Governance and visualization. Environmental sustainability data for an organization is vast and constantly growing. Additionally, in sectors where business decisions require this data, different stakeholders within the company need access to a single source of truth. This is a ideal use case for generative AI.
  • Research and revolution. AI has the potential to accelerate research into new and revolutionary approaches for creating more sustainable technologies and processes. In agriculture, for example, the combination of robotics and AI technology is reducing herbicide use by up to 90%, and studies show that smart sensors and AI are able to reduce water consumption by over 40%.
  • Empowerment and activation. One of the most potentially influential applications of generative AI is to answer questions about the impact of climate change and how we can take action. Ekimetrics offers a Q&A tool powered by ChatGPT to answer climate questions while providing references to source information. This tool may be useful for firms as they create sustainability and climate adaptation plans. Another example is the Mila institute, which uses generative AI to visualize the future impact of climate change at any specific address, anywhere in the world. The experience is visceral.
  • Design and manufacturing. Sustainable design extends from manufacturing products to software application user experience and interfaces. Technical teams working on product design use generative AI to access the latest research as well as create simulations and modeling to test designs for environmental sustainability. This will accelerate the economy, which depends on creating designs that lengthen the life span of products.

Appropriate governance processes are essential for the responsible adoption of any AI technologies. Contact us to learn more about AI governance as well as any of these other exciting potential benefits.