IBM established its first water conservation goal in the year 2000, focusing on the significant use of water in our microelectronics manufacturing operations. From 2000 to 2015, IBM’s water conservation efforts avoided the accumulated use of 21.3 million cubic meters of water in those operations. With the divestiture of IBM’s semiconductor manufacturing operations in July 2015, we substantially reduced our direct water use. IBM’s current water use is primarily associated with cooling at our large facilities and data centers, and for irrigation and domestic purposes.
Following IBM’s divestiture of its semiconductor manufacturing operations during 2015, we reassessed the environmental impacts of our water use. We identified 45 data centers and other large IBM locations located in water-stressed regions. We did this by using the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Global Water Tool, which highlighted places around the globe with highly stressed, or extremely highly stressed, water resources. Following this assessment, IBM established a new goal in 2016 to achieve ongoing year-to-year reductions in water withdrawals at these locations, even though many of these locations had already undertaken projects to reduce water consumption.
In 2016, IBM reduced water withdrawals at these locations in water-stressed regions by 6.6 percent against a 2015 baseline year. Water sources for these locations consisted of municipal water supplies (72 percent), surface water (24 percent), and groundwater (4 percent). These sources accounted for 97 percent of total water use at these locations, while 3 percent came from on-site process water reuse, process water recycling, or grey water. The main uses of water at these locations are for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems (31 percent), washrooms (23 percent), cleaning (22 percent), irrigation of gardens and lawns (17 percent), and food preparation (7 percent).