Conserving energy and reducing CO2 emissions

Energy conservation has been a major component of IBM's comprehensive climate protection programs because the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by the utility companies powering the company's facilities and from the use of fuel for heating or cooling represents the greatest potential climate impact associated with IBM's operations. Because of that, a principal focus of IBM's climate objectives has been its energy conservation goal.

Early leadership and results

IBM has been tracking it energy consumption since 1973 and has had a specific, numeric annual energy conservation goal for decades. The results of this early focus on energy conservation have been significant. For example, between 1990 and 2012, IBM saved 6.1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity consumption, avoided 3.9 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, an amount equal to 57 percent of the company's 1990 global CO2 emissions, and saved $477 million through its annual energy conservation actions.

Only energy savings from documented energy conservation projects are included in the above results. Energy savings as a result of divestitures or downsizings do not count toward IBM's conservation goal. Moreover, the above results are conservative in that they include only the first year's savings from the conservation projects. Ongoing savings from conservation projects beyond the first year are not included in the tally. Accordingly, the total energy savings and CO2 emissions avoidance from these conservation actions is actually greater than this simple summation of the annual results.

2012 Energy conservation results

In 2012, IBM's energy conservation projects across the company delivered savings equal to 6.5 percent of our total energy use versus the corporate goal of 3.5 percent. These projects avoided the consumption of 336,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity and 215,000 million British thermal units (Btu) of fuel oil and natural gas, representing the avoidance of 155,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions. The conservation projects also saved $35 million in energy expense. While the quantity of energy avoided through conservation projects is slightly (0.9 percent) lower than in 2011, the 6.5 percent avoidance is consistent with the 2008-2012 average of 6.4 percent per year. These strong results are due to our continued, across-the-board focus on energy demand reduction, efficiency and the implementation of standard, global energy conservation strategies for facility operating systems.

More than 2,670 energy conservation projects involving a full range of energy efficiency initiatives delivered savings at over IBM 400 locations globally in 2012. Examples include:

Leveraging analytics for further efficiencies

As opportunities for incremental savings from typical energy conservation projects diminish due to IBM's decades-long focus on energy efficiency, we are increasingly leveraging analytics to uncover less obvious, embedded opportunities to achieve continual improvement in operational energy efficiency.

Data centers

In 2012, we completed nearly 400 projects at over 120 existing data center locations that reduced energy use by over 49,700 MWh, and saved more than $5.5 million. Total savings from these projects are equivalent to the energy use of a 4,000 to 6,000 square meter IBM strategic data center.

The IBM Management and Measurement Technology (MMT) thermal management system has been installed at IBM's major data centers representing more than 60 percent of the global raised floor energy consumption for IBM's internal and client IT operations. This innovative technology from IBM Research produces a real-time, three-dimensional thermal map of the detailed heat sources and sinks within a data center. Using the information provided by MMT, IBM has been able to take the following actions over the past three years:

MMT offers the additional benefit of rebalancing a data center's thermal profile as equipment is removed and installed, enabling the early identification of developing problems to pro-actively mitigate their impacts.

System virtualization and cloud cmputing

Virtualizing workloads allows a single system to support multiple applications or images, making greater use of the IT equipment capabilities and executing more workloads in less space with less energy.

IBM is utilizing virtualization to consolidate multiple workloads from servers and storage systems with low utilization onto single systems, reducing energy use and cost by more than 104,300 MWh and $10 million in 2012. IBM virtualized more than 22,000 applications in our owned/leased data centers in 2012 and plans to continue these projects in 2013 and beyond to continually improve utilization of IBM and client hardware assets and reduce data center operations energy use and space requirements.

We continued to expand IBM's cloud computing programs through 2012, offering cloud services from seven IBM data centers around the globe. Cloud computing is an efficient model for providing IT services that optimizes the use of virtualization technologies. It allows us to further improve utilization of IT equipment assets, better balance workloads, adjust power consumption and virtualize infrastructure in data centers to align processing and storage needs with power consumption.

An aditional significant energy conservation goal

In 2009, amid business growth and continued increases in global energy prices, IBM set an additional goal to conserve 1,100,000 MWh of energy by year-end 2012. This was a substantial undertaking—1,100,000 MWh represents more than 20 percent of the total electricity IBM consumed in 2008.

Over the last four years, an integrated team from IBM’s environmental and finance staffs, real estate organization and business units saved 1,246,000 MWh of energy through conservation and efficiency, exceeding our target by 13.3 percent. Over 6,000 individual projects were completed across more than 500 facilities in 56 countries. The projects involved the deployment of unique IBM technologies and know-how, as well as a strong management system supported by senior executives.

The following provides a summary of the accomplishments achieved over the period of this initiative:

This additional goal augmented IBM’s already strong company-wide energy conservation focus and enabled us to increase our average annual energy conservation savings rate as a percentage of our annual energy consumption from the 5 percent we achieved between 2005 to 2008 to 6.3 percent from 2009 to 2012.

Executing this additional goal also revealed several keys to achieving continual improvement in energy conservation and efficiency, including: