IBM’s Decades-Long Dedication to Energy Conservation and Climate Leadership

by | May 7, 2024 | Stories

IBM has been committed to addressing climate change through the company’s energy conservation and climate protection programs for decades. As a proud member of the inaugural Climate Leadership Hall of Fame, IBM believes in setting and achieving meaningful greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals that will drive real change. Supported by our own hybrid cloud platform, AI technology and hardware capabilities, IBM’s energy and climate strategy begins with making our operations more efficient, thereby reducing our actual consumption of energy, which is our most significant source of GHG emissions. Increasing our renewable electricity procurement is an integral part of this strategy. As a result of our efforts, in 2023, we reduced IBM’s operational GHG emissions 68.5% against base year 2010, adjusted for acquisitions and divestitures, meeting our 2025 goal to reduce emissions by 65% two years early.

Our goals for energy efficiency and conservation, renewable electricity procurement and operational GHG emissions reduction cover our activities taking place in locations owned or leased by IBM. These locations include IBM data centers located in facilities managed by third parties where IBM does not procure the energy or control the operations of the buildings – also known as co-location data centers.  

Continuing our energy conservation program since the early 1970’s, in 2021, we refreshed our goal to implement a minimum of 3,000 energy conservation projects to avoid the consumption of 275,000 MWh of energy from 2021 to 2025. During 2023, we implemented 675 energy conservation projects across more than 130 locations globally, avoiding an estimated 95,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy consumption and 33,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent (mtCO2e) emissions, thereby saving approximately $11 million. Since 1990, we have conserved an estimated 10.1 million MWh of energy consumption —equivalent to more than four times our current annual energy consumption— saving an estimated $691 million and avoiding an estimated 4.66 million mtCO2e emissions. 

We continue to execute projects aimed at enhancing the energy efficiency of both cooling and IT equipment and optimizing the operational efficiency in our data center facilities. Our comprehensive approach includes the following strategies:

  • Space utilization: We optimize existing data center space to increase workload density, minimizing energy consumption per unit of compute power.
  • Technology upgrades: We invest in energy-efficient IT infrastructure, leveraging advancements in hardware and software efficiency.
  • Leasing strategy: We prioritize leasing more energy-efficient co-location data centers equipped with advanced cooling and power management systems.

We established a goal in 2021 to improve the average data center cooling efficiency 20% by 2025 against base year 2019. In 2023, our weighted average Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) was 1.46, an improvement of 16.4% in cooling efficiency when compared to our baseline.

We increased our renewable electricity consumption to approximately 1,322,000 MWh in 2023, representing 70.6% of our total electricity consumption, versus our goal to procure 75% of the electricity IBM consumes worldwide from renewable sources by 2025. That includes 56.6% contracted directly from power suppliers or obtained via landlords, and 14% already in the electricity mix we received from the grid. We do not rely upon the purchase of unbundled renewable energy certificates to comprise any “percent renewable” if we cannot credibly consume the electricity those certificates represent. Our global definition of “grid region” aligns with how the U.S. Energy Information Administration defines power balancing authorities’ territories.

Collectively, the efforts above contributed towards our goal to reach net-zero operational GHG emissions by 2030, using feasible technologies to remove emissions in an amount which equals or exceeds IBM’s residual emissions. We correspondingly aim for residual emissions of 350,000 mtCO2e or less by 2030. As of 2023, our operational GHG covered by this goal were 364,000 mtCO2e.

IBM also offers technology, consulting and research capabilities that can help make data more visible and actionable. By leveraging our hybrid cloud platform, AI technology and hardware capabilities, we can help accelerate clients’ business objectives and sustainability goals.

IBM has been a supporter of the Climate leadership Conference and its programs since its inception, and we appreciate and value the opportunities the Conference provides to collaborate and exchange ideas amongst organizations taking actions to address climate change. We are humbled to have been recognized eight times across four different Climate Leadership Award categories.

*The opinions expressed within the content are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of The Climate Registry.