Our comprehensive environmental programs range from energy and climate protection to pollution prevention, chemical and waste management, resource conservation, and product design for the environment. IBM’s energy conservation and climate protection programs are highlighted here because of the global interest in this topic. In 2015, we achieved outstanding operational results in this area and continued to leverage our research, technologies and solutions to help clients and the world advance in ways that are more energy-efficient and protective of our planet.
Energy conservation across the enterprise
In 2015, IBM’s energy conservation projects delivered savings equal to 6.3 percent of our total energy use, surpassing our annual goal of 3.5 percent. These projects saved and avoided the consumption of 272,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity and 172,000 million British thermal units (MMBtu) of fuel oil and natural gas, avoiding 122,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Our 2015 conservation measures also saved $28.9 million in energy expenses. Between 1990 and 2015, IBM saved 7 million MWh of electricity consumption, avoided 4.3 million metric tons of CO2 emissions (equal to 63 percent of the company’s 1990 global CO2 emissions) and saved $579 million through energy conservation actions.
In 2015, IBM contracted to purchase over 679,000 MWh of renewable energy over and above the quantity already included in our electricity purchases from the grid. The 679,000 MWh represented 16.2 percent of our global electricity consumption and resulted in the avoidance of 252,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions. IBM works with its electricity providers to directly procure renewable electricity for IBM’s facilities, making a clear connection by matching purchases to consumption as opposed to purchasing renewable energy certificates as offsets. Our goal is to procure electricity from contracted renewable sources for 20 percent of IBM’s annual electricity consumption by 2020.
Third-generation CO2 emissions reduction goal
We continue to make progress toward our third-generation CO2 emissions reduction goal: to reduce emissions associated with our energy consumption 35 percent by year-end 2020, against base year 2005 and adjusted for acquisitions and divestitures. This goal represents an additional 20 percent reduction, from year-end 2012 to year-end 2020, over the reductions achieved from 2005 to 2012 under IBM’s second-generation goal. Adjusting the baseline to remove emissions from the recently divested semiconductor manufacturing operations, IBM has reduced its CO2 emissions by 28.7 percent since 2005, and we are on track to achieve the 35 percent reduction by 2020.
Leveraging analytics for further efficiencies
IBM energy management and data center teams are expanding their use of analytics to minimize energy use and optimize building and data center operating performance. Over 50 percent of 2015 conservation projects at IBM’s top 10 energy-consuming sites resulted from projects involving analytics to drive energy savings. IBM’s TRIRIGA® Real Estate Environmental Sustainability (TREES) Impact Manager has been deployed at more than 145 buildings, representing 45 percent of IBM’s global energy consumption. Annual savings of 32,300 MWh of energy and $1.7 million were realized from these deployments in 2015. IBM has sustained an average 10 percent reduction in energy use annually since 2011 for the building and systems monitored and managed by the TREES Impact Manager solution. We offer this and other energy management solutions to our clients to help them achieve greater operational efficiencies.
Energy solutions for a more sustainable future
Our solutions have enabled our clients to improve their efficiency and reduce their environmental impact. Moving forward, cognitive technology is creating opportunities for an ever-more-instrumented planet — what some call the Internet of Things (IoT).
The IBM Building Management Center solution combines cognitive computing and IoT to mine and aggregate data from multiple sources across an enterprise, providing operators new insights to manage operations, energy use and space within and across facilities while reducing cost and associated greenhouse gas emissions. This solution, delivered via the IBM SoftLayer® cloud platform, has been implemented at a major U.S. university. It currently covers nine buildings and monitors thousands of data points from building automation and control systems made by several different manufacturers. After only four months of work focusing on 60-plus air handling units, annualized energy savings of 16,000 MWh of electricity and over $135,000 have been identified through the solution.
IBM researchers are working with academic, government and industry collaborators to develop a self-learning weather model and renewable forecasting technology, known as SMT, through a program supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. The SMT system uses machine learning, big data and analytics to continuously analyze, learn from and improve solar forecasts derived from a large number of weather models. These refined forecasts, when combined with a grid management system that balances supply and demand, can be used to increase and optimize the output of solar and other renewable resources. By using state-of-the-art machine learning and other cognitive computing technologies, IBM scientists are generating solar and wind output and demand forecasts that are up to 30 percent more accurate than ones created using conventional approaches, whether minutes or days in advance.