Energy conservation

We recognize that the most effective way to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is to make our operations more efficient and thereby reduce our actual consumption of energy, which is IBM's most significant source of GHG emissions.

Energy conservation projects

IBM implemented 936 energy conservation projects at more than 190 locations globally during 2021. These projects avoided 90,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy consumption and 26,500 metric tons of CO2 emissions, and saved $9.9 million in expense.

We only include the first year's savings from projects. Accordingly, IBM's total energy savings and CO2 emissions avoidance from these projects are greater than this simple summation of the annual results. We do not include reductions in energy consumption resulting from downsizings, the sale of operations or cost-avoidance actions, such as fuel switching and off-peak load shifting, in our energy conservation results.

We adjusted schedules for lighting levels, temperature and other building systems to avoid unnecessary consumption of energy during the COVID-19 pandemic, when buildings were underutilized. We also implemented projects in our data centers to improve the energy efficiency of both cooling and IT equipment, retrofitted lighting, and improved the operational efficiency of our building infrastructure.

We have deployed IBM's Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics solution at 25 major IBM campuses covering 190 buildings and encompassing 41% of IBM's global energy consumption. During 2021, this program helped identify energy conservation opportunities that resulted in the avoidance of 3,400 MWh of energy and $356,000 in expense.

From 1990 through 2021, IBM conserved 9.9 million megawatt-hours of energy — equivalent to more than double IBM's current annual energy consumption — saving $670 million and avoiding 4.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Data center energy efficiency

We take a holistic approach to managing and improving the energy efficiency of our data centers—from improving existing space to derive more workload per area; to modernizing our IT infrastructure and reducing its energy consumption; to building or leasing new, higher-efficiency space.

IBM calculates the power usage effectiveness (PUE)1 at many of the data centers we manage and obtains PUE data from landlords of co-location data centers. For the limited number of data centers where we are unable to obtain PUE data, we use industry average data. Using this approach, we calculated our 2021 weighted average PUE to be 1.53.2 This puts us on track to achieve our goal to improve the average cooling efficiency of our data centers by 20% by 2025 against a base year of 2019.

Following the spinoff of IBM's managed infrastructure services business in 2021, the majority of IBM's data centers reside in third-party managed locations. We have developed and negotiated lease terms that enable us to engage and collaborate with landlords to improve the efficiency of support infrastructure toward meeting our goal.

1Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is the ratio of the total energy consumed by the data center divided by the energy consumed by the IT equipment. The closer the value is to 1, the more energy efficient the data center and its cooling delivery are.

2Includes only those data centers that remained with IBM after the Kyndryl spinoff.