Amazon Web Services supports local governments in going net-zero

By Amazon Web Services

Singapore’s East Coast Town Council is partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS) as part of a pilot to go net-zero. This is just one way in which AWS’ cloud-powered sustainability solutions are supporting governments in lowering the carbon footprint of buildings, businesses and towns.

Singapore’s East Coast Town Council is partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS) as part of a pilot to go net-zero. This is just one way in which AWS’ cloud-powered sustainability solutions are supporting governments in lowering the carbon footprint of buildings, businesses and towns. Image: Canva

This year, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Accenture announced that they are working with Singapore’s East Coast Town Council on a pilot project that aims to align local municipality efforts with the nation’s 2030 climate action plan. The six month pilot aims to analyse usage data across common utilities such as markets and residential areas, allowing the council to plan targeted solutions and strategies for town management purposes. This is one example of how AWS is supporting city leaders in strengthening city resilience and building more livable and sustainable cities for the future.

Building on AWS, Accenture has created a digital twin of these buildings which will generate insights on energy usage and identify possible intervention strategies. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is critical in powering the graphic-intensive prototyping operations, as it delivers secure and scalable compute capacity, while Amazon WorkSpaces provides access to applications and desktops from anywhere, allowing the Accenture team to co-develop innovative solutions remotely.

Buildings accounted for 36 per cent of global energy demand in 2021 according to a report published by the United Nations Environment Programme. AWS is supporting building owners and operators in optimising overall building performance and improving energy usage through Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.

AWS data analytics services can support customers in quickly analysing building data and understanding how a building is performing in real-time. Then, machine learning tools on AWS can help building operators identify patterns and make better predictions, from forecasting future energy consumption to performing predictive maintenance.

In a press release, Ms Elsie Tan, Country Manager, Public Sector, Singapore, AWS, said, “AWS is committed to helping our customers decarbonise and build sustainable businesses, from townships to cities, just as we are committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2040.”

Ms Jessica Tan, Chairman for East Coast Town Council and MP for East Coast GRC (Changi-Simei) said, “We want to galvanise and partner residents, thought leaders in the sustainability domains, town management stakeholders and service providers, and work towards zero waste and energy efficiency in a Caring, Green and Vibrant East Coast.”

Data the key to unlocking sustainability

Beyond supporting buildings and towns in becoming energy efficient, AWS is supporting researchers and scientists in advancing their work on sustainability research by providing climate-relevant open data through the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative (ASDI). Such data can enable agencies to better understand how human activity is affecting the environment, and where targeted interventions can be most effective.

The Initiative works with scientific organisations around the world to identify critical datasets, ranging from weather observations, satellite imagery, to climate projection data, which are then made publicly available by the AWS Open Data Sponsorship Program.

Given that most sustainability datasets are large and complex, only those with access to large computer storage and analytical capabilities have been able to make use of such datasets in the past.

Hence, the team has worked with sustainability data providers such as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to provide public access to these datasets on the AWS Cloud. AWS covers the cost for storing ASDI data in the cloud, and providers retain complete control of the datasets. This allows sustainability experts to analyse massive amounts of data in minutes, regardless of where they are or how much local storage or computing capacity they can access.

For example, ASDI has partnered with Digital Earth Africa, which translates satellite imagery specific to Africa’s land and seas into insights that governments and NGOs can use to make decisions about the environment. ASDI stores petabytes of satellite data in the Cape Town region, at no cost to the project, supporting African leaders in tracking environmental changes.

In Tanzania, government officials and academics are using such satellite data to monitor the state of mangroves on the island of Zanzibar, and assess how they are being affected by coastal erosion, rising sea levels, and human activity. This lets them identify areas that are prone to flooding and have experienced overexploitation, enabling conservation agencies to implement more targeted coastal management solutions.

Sustainability a key priority

Amazon has made sustainability a key priority for its operations. The cloud computing provider co-founded The Climate Pledge in 2019, which sees the provider aiming to reach net-zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. Since then, more than 300 companies have joined Amazon in taking this pledge.

The company is also on track to powering their operations with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025 – five years ahead of their original target of 2030. According to the company’s 2021 Sustainability Report, operations are already being powered by 85 per cent renewable energy, and the company has become the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy.

Last year, the company announced their first renewable energy project in Singapore, a 62 megawatt solar project made up of a series of solar panels. When completed this year, it will contribute renewable energy to the country’s national electricity grid, with enough energy to power more than 10,000 homes in Singapore. The project will supply renewable energy for Amazon offices, fulfilment centres, and AWS data centres which support millions of customers globally.

In New Zealand, the company has partnered with Vector, the country’s leading provider of electricity distribution as well as electricity and gas metering.  The two companies are jointly developing a New Energy Platform that will leverage AWS IoT Analytics to collect and analyse data from more than 1.6 million IoT connected Vector meters deployed across New Zealand and Australia.

This will allow them to provide more accurate and dynamic pricing models to incentivise the use of renewable energy produced locally, such as solar panels or microgrids, or stored in batteries by customers. Eventually, this aims to facilitate efficient grid management and greater integration of clean energy.

Supporting customers in reducing emissions

Beyond its investment in and support of renewable energy projects, the company also empowers customers to track their carbon emissions from their use of AWS services through the Customer Carbon Footprint Tool.

With this tool, customers can get a better understanding of what drives their carbon footprint through easy-to-understand data visualisations and track changes over time. The tool also lets agencies forecast expected emissions against long-term goals, taking into account AWS’ long-term plans towards powering operations with 100 per cent renewable energy.

The AWS Well-Architected Framework Sustainability Pillar provides agencies with design principles, operational guidance, best practices, and improvement plans to adopt that will help agencies meet sustainability targets for their AWS workloads. The framework allows agencies to consistently measure their architectures against best practices, identify areas for improvement, and put action plans in place to reduce emissions.

To learn more about how AWS tools such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, Internet of Things, and more can improve energy efficiency of buildings, download this eBook to understand how to unlock building data and optimize overall building performance, energy usage, and the occupant experience.