IBM Racks Up Nearly $27M in Energy Savings

IBM Racks Up Nearly $27M in Energy Savings

IBM saved $26.8 million in energy expenses in 2009 as a result of companywide conservation efforts that surpassed corporate targets, the firm said in annual reports that chart progress toward corporate responsibility and environmental goals. 

Last year, 1,900 energy conservation projects at 270 IBM facilities around the world helped deliver savings in energy consumption that were equivalent to 5.4 percent of the company's total energy use. The corporate goal for the year was 3.5 percent. 

The projects also enabled the company to avoid:

  • Consumption of more than 246,000 megawatt-hours of electricity.
  • Consumption of more than 410,000 million BTUs of fuel oil.
  • More than 142,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

The figures represent just one segment of the 50-page annual Corporate Responsibility Report and 48-page report Environment Report that were released yesterday. The reports recap recent industry firsts by IBM in eliminating toxic compounds and details the company's performance in the past year in several major areas including:IBM by the numbers

  • Energy conservation and climate protection.
  • Process stewardship.
  • Product stewardship.
  • Supply chain management. 

This year is the 20th anniversary of IBM's environmental reporting program. 

"We are particularly proud to have sustained this practice for 20 years, during periods when the environment was not always as popular a subject as it is today; during profound changes in the global economy, our industry and our business model; and during periods of differing financial results." said Wayne S. Balta, IBM's vice president for Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety, in the environmental report. 

From 1990, when the company published its first environmental report, to 2009,  IBM said it has:

  • Saved 5,100 gigawatt hours of electricity consumption.
  • Avoided nearly 3.4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, which the firms estimates as being equals to 50 percent of the company's global CO2 emissions in 1990.
  • Saved more than $370 million through energy conservation projects and related efforts. 

IBM also compared the expense for conservation and other environmental programs to the environmental benefits and reduced costs delivered by its efforts. 

In 2009, the company spent $14.3 million in capital and $96 million in operating expense to build, maintain and upgrade plants and labs to enhance environmental performance and manage environmental programs. IBM achieved an estimated environmental savings and cost avoidance of $152.4 million compared to the $96 million in operating expense -- a ratio of return of about 1.6 to 1. 

IBM also reported on: 

Water conservation. By the end of 2009, IBM's microelectronics manufacturing operations attained an average annual water savings of 3.1 percent over the past five years compared with its goal of 2 percent across a rolling five-year period.

CO2 Emissions. Energy-related CO2 emissions in 2009 fell 2.6 percent compared to 2008. The firm's purchase of renewable energy last year equaled 11.3 percent of the company total energy use in 2009. Combined, the efforts resulted in a 5.7 percent reduction in IBM's energy-related CO2 emissions by the end of 2009 in comparison to a 2005 baseline. IBM's goal is to achieve a 12 percent reduction in energy related CO2 emissions by 2012. 


PFC Emissions. IBM surpassed its target of reducing perfluorocompound emissions from semiconductor manufacturing 25 percent by 2010 against a base year of 1995. By the close of 2009, PFC emissions were 48.8 percent below the 1995 baseline amount of 381,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. 

Product Recovery and Recycling. The company's product end-of-life management (PELM) operations processed about 41,400 metric tons of end-of-life products and product waste; it sent 0.5 percent of the total to landfills or to incineration facilities for treatment. The result fell well within the company's goal of sending no more than 3 percent to landfills and incineration.

Product Energy Efficiency. The firm's 2009 lines of existing server products and models yielded 23 percent to 96 percent more computing capability for each kWh of electricity used than their predecessors -- in keeping with the company's goal of improved energy efficiency by successive product generations.

Hazardous Waste Reduction. In one of the few areas in which the company missed a target, IBM's hazardous waste generation indexed to output increased 8.4 percent in 2009. The firm said the uptick largely resulted from process changes during a transition to lower line width microprocessor technologies at a semiconductor manufacturing facility. The company's goal is for year-to-year reductions in hazardous waste generation from manufacturing processes indexed to output.

Nonhazardous Waste Recycling. The company sent 76 percent of its nonhazardous waste to be recycled. IBM's goal is to recycle an average of 75 percent of nonhazardous waste generated at locations it manages.

IBM also highlighted its:

  • Elimination of all known company uses of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) from chip manufacturing processes, becoming the first in the industry to do so. IBM's phase-out began in 2003 and led to elimination of the compounds from wet etch processes by the end of 2008, and  from photolithography processes by January 31 this year.

  • Invention of a new type of fluorine-free photo-acid generator for use in the production of semiconductors using 193nm lithography. The development announced by IBM research in February, considered an example of green chemistry in action, was another industry first, the company said.

The reports are available from IBM at and

IBM was among the firms lauded for energy efficiency earlier this year by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

Image courtesy of IBM.