Water conservation

Preserving water resources and safeguarding watersheds are important environmental protection priorities. IBM's first water conservation goal was established in 2000 and has evolved over time.

IBM operations are not generally water intensive. The company's water conservation goal prioritizes efforts to reduce water use where it will have the greatest potential environmental impact. IBM's goal is to achieve year-to-year reductions in water withdrawals at larger IBM locations in water-stressed regions. In 2022, withdrawals at these locations decreased by 0.19% versus 2021.

This decrease in water withdrawals was primarily due to temporary or permanent building closures and reduced lawn irrigation, including some lawn irrigation reductions mandated by government. For example, three major projects involved lawn conversions that replaced over 100,000 square feet of grassy area with drought resistant native plants reducing the total annual landscape irrigation by approximately 9,200 cubic meters. In addition, we reused or recycled over 24,000 cubic meters of water for landscape irrigation. Other water conservation efforts consisted of the installation of faucet aerators, reduce flush cisterns, and automatic faucet sensors in washrooms. Results from our efforts to reduce water withdrawals during 2022 were largely offset as more employees returned to offices.

Our primary use of water at locations subject to this goal is domestic water consumption in the workplace (46% of total water withdrawals), cooling and humidity control at office buildings (25% of total water withdrawals), and irrigation of lawns and gardens (19% of total water withdrawals). We installed more than 100 water meters in campuses in India and South America which resulted in more accurate measurement of our water consumption in multi-tenant buildings where we previously relied upon estimates.

IBM also continues to look for opportunities to reduce water consumption at locations outside of water-stressed regions. In 2022, more than 11,400 cubic meters of water were saved through various conservation projects, including optimization of reverse osmosis deionized water systems to generate less wastewater, utilization of rainwater, and routine maintenance of water pipes.