Energy Management

Energy management is constantly evolving so we continue to explore new strategies and creative ways to work toward our goals and more efficiently manage the energy we use. Visibility and accountability, innovation and collaboration, and technology are the building blocks of our approach.

Visibility and accountability

In 2008, we developed energy scorecards that evaluate energy consumption and project activity. The scorecard generates an easy to understand “grade” for 1,800 of our largest energy-consuming and retail sites. By sharing these grades with all facility managers and working to find creative solutions to overcome challenges, we’ve seen greater interest in sharing innovative ideas to reduce energy use. Those ideas have contributed to the implementation of more than 65,000 energy efficiency projects resulting in annualized savings of $427 million from 2010-2016.

Innovation and collaboration

Energy efficiency projects with inherently compelling financials are relatively easy to execute. However, funding and implementing efficiency projects becomes more challenging when the financial returns are less compelling. Recognizing this, we developed the Savings Power Purchase Agreement (sPPA), a mechanism to fund efficiency upgrades without the need of upfront capital. Using the sPPA model, we pay a third-party vendor to install energy efficient equipment at our facilities, then pay that vendor a rate for every unit of electricity they are able to vaporize (eliminate). We have found this to be a successful model for hedging electricity rates and reducing electricity use with no upfront capital costs. Beyond financial innovations, we collaborate with other external organizations like Bloom Energy Corporation to help us further our energy management through alternative energy solutions.


We are always looking for ways to better use technology to become more energy efficient. For example, Project iCON (Intelligent Connection of Facility Networks) uses our network to acquire valuable performance data from facility equipment across the country. We manage the data from a single, centralized point that allows us to create performance baselines, monitor equipment status and identify required maintenance actions in real time. This allows for significant savings on maintenance costs, in addition to reductions in unnecessary energy use. The implementation of Project iCON is helping to revolutionize the way we manage and ultimately reduce our energy usage.

Energy Savings

Since 2010, we’ve implemented more than 65,000 energy efficiency projects resulting in annualized savings of $427 million from 2010–2016. In 2016, this included 25,000 projects that totaled an annualized savings of $101 million.

Energy Intensity

In 2008, we established an intensity metric to measure our electricity usage as compared to our network traffic growth. We did this to show progress in our efficiency efforts at a time when heavier network demands are driving higher electricity use.

Here is our progress to date:

Base Year (2013)



Target Year (2020)





Though AT&T has set an aggressive goal for reduction of electricity consumption in MWh per Petabyte of carried network data traffic, the combined efforts across all business units to manage our energy footprint and to transform our business have moved us toward our energy intensity goal even faster than anticipated. The 2020 goal set in 2013 allotted us seven years to produce a 60% reduction in our energy intensity. By the end of 2016, with three years behind us, we have already reduced our energy intensity by 40% from the 2013 baseline, and this is despite the growth in our operational footprint in Mexico and Latin America.

Alternative Energy

At the end of 2016, our alternative energy portfolio included 5.0 megawatts (MW) of solar installations, 33.2 MW of onsite fuel cell power from Bloom Energy servers and 1.6 MW of wind capacity, for a total alternative energy capacity of 39.9 MW. These sources of power will produce 298 million kWh annually, which is equivalent to the electricity use of nearly 30,000 homes for a year.

In 2016, we continued to build out alternative energy capacity and worked with Bloom Energy Corporation to install Bloom Energy servers at 21 Bloom Fuel Cell installations in CA and one in NJ. The fuel cell technology is generally carbon neutral compared to conventional grid power sources. Fuel cells virtually eliminate SOx (sulfur oxides), NOx (nitrogen oxides) and other harmful smog-forming particulate emissions while helping AT&T to hedge against conventional power rate uncertainty.

Read more about our energy management programs.

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Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S)

We are committed to following stringent environment, health and safety (EHS) regulations applicable to our operations, providing products and services in an environmentally responsible manner and protecting the health and safety of our employees within the jurisdictions in which we operate. Our operating companies had no significant environment, health or safety compliance-related enforcement actions in 2016 (defined as those actions that resulted in sanctions equal to or exceeding $100,000). We take our EHS stewardship seriously and we evaluate our EHS performance through regular reviews and audits.

AT&T has a strong environment, health and safety management system — and it starts with an Environment, Health & Safety Policy signed by the AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson. AT&T has adopted an Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Management System based on the principles of International Standards Organization (ISO) 14001 and Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001. Please see our comparison table for alignment.

The EHS Management System provides a framework for AT&T to systematically manage its environmental risks and health & safety hazards, which will continually improve our operations, performance, and maintain the highest levels of commitment to the health and safety of our employees and the protection of our environment.

This system is intended to be used by AT&T employees, customers, and a range of other parties for the purpose of implementing the 6 elements of the management system to ensure compliance with external and internal objectives:

  • General Requirements: As mentioned above, our EHS Management System is based on the principles of International Standards Organization (ISO) 14001 and Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001.
  • Environment, Health & Safety Policy: The AT&T Environment Health and Safety Policy is communicated throughout the enterprise, commits us to achieving compliance with EHS laws and regulations, continually improving our management systems and achieving other non-regulatory-related EHS goals.
  • Planning: We identify the potential hazards, risks and impacts on the environment associated with our operations. Then we design and prioritize programs and processes to prevent or mitigate potential hazards and risks. Our planning involves establishing objectives and targets for evaluating potential EHS performance. We manage compliance by conducting job hazard analyses and occupational risk assessments; implementing a Management of Change (MOC) process; implementing business unit EHS Plans; and analyzing audit and assessment data.
  • Implementation & Operation: We implement these plans by assigning clear responsibility and accountability for EHS performance, defining clear roles and responsibilities within the EH&S Organization. We train AT&T employees and communicate EHS expectations to our vendors and contractors, providing EHS information both within and outside the enterprise.
  • Checking: AT&T routinely checks on our EHS performance by analyzing key performance measures and metrics covering aspects of EHS performance, and by reviewing business operations that impact EHS. When incidents or nonconformities with laws or company standards are identified, we have formal systems established to identify corrective actions and track these actions until they are completed.
  • Management Review: Senior leadership, such as the Executive Environmental Council, participates in regular reviews of AT&T’s EHS performance and programs. The council is a regular forum for senior leaders of AT&T business units to review their ongoing implementation of the AT&T environmental policy.

Our Code of Business Conduct (CoBC) specifically includes a section on creating a safe and secure place to work. Each employee — from our part-time workers to our CEO — is responsible for reviewing the code annually and understanding its provisions. In 2016, approximately 98% of employees completed the annual COBC training.

Read more about our Environmental, Health & Safety.

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Alternative Fuel Vehicles

AT&T is always looking for ways to modify its fleet strategy in an effort to reduce fleet-related emissions. These efforts include deploying an Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) fleet, deploying the most efficient technology and leveraging our own fleet management solutions for commercial trucks and vans.

By 2020, we plan to reduce the emissions of our fleet by 30% by 2020 from our 2008 baseline (including DIRECTV’s fleet).

U.S. EPA SmartWay Program

AT&T participates in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay program. Through this program, we benchmark and measure progress in our transport emissions management, which helps us further integrate energy efficiency, air quality and climate change considerations into our decisions. The program also enables us to identify potential carbon reductions and cost savings opportunities in our distribution network.

In 2016, more than 99.8% of the miles covered by the AT&T Transportation Control Center were by carriers that participate in the EPA SmartWay program. AT&T also increased the number of SmartWay participating carriers we will utilize going forward into 2017, including incorporating those suppliers used by DIRECTV.

Read more about our fleet and transportation commitments.

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG)

We’ve been measuring and disclosing our GHG emissions since 2008. Our GHG emissions in 2016 decreased by 0.2% compared to 2015, both for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.  

For our 2016 Greenhouse Gas inventory, we obtained independent assurance of our Scope 1, 2 and 3 (business travel) emissions from Trucost. Their statement can be found in this Independent Accountant’s Report. We believe it’s important that this metric be accurate, and Trucost’s increased rigor around this process helps us realize continual, year-over-year improvements in accuracy.

AT&T GHG Inventory, Year over Year chart

Scope 1 Direct Emissions

We have a goal to reduce our Scope 1 emissions by 20% by 2020, using a 2008 Scope 1 baseline of 1,172,476 metric tons (mtons) CO2-equivalent (CO2e). In 2016, we emitted 1,140,631 mtons CO2e. The current emission level represents a 2.72% decrease compared to the 2008 baseline. Direct emissions account for 12.8% of our total Scope 1 & 2 (Direct + Indirect) GHG emissions. In 2016, we saw a 10.3% increase in direct emissions, primarily attributed to natural gas consumption and ground fleet. Since setting our Scope 1 goal, we have greatly expanded our business operations to include DIRECTV and Iusacell in Mexico, and DIRECTV in Latin America. We’ve also more than doubled our fleet of natural gas fuel cells for on-site power generation. Together, these activities impose a great deal of upward pressure on our Scope 1 emissions, and challenge our ability to achieve the original Scope 1 goal.

We have a goal to reduce our Scope 1 emissions 20 percent by 20201, using a 2008 Scope 1 baseline of 1,172,476 mtons CO2e. In 2016, we emitted 1,140,631 mtons CO2e (Scope 1). This represents a 2.72% decrease compared to our 2008 baseline.

Scope 2 (Indirect Emissions)

Our Scope 2 emissions account for 87% of our total (Direct, i.e., Scope 1, and Indirect, i.e., Scope 2) emissions.  Scope 2 emissions are associated with purchased electricity and steam. We saw an increase of nearly 1.4% in our Scope 2 emissions footprint. DIRECTV Latin American emissions, being incorporated for the first time, are the primary driver of the increases. These increases were partially offset by Scope 2 decreases in our domestic electricity footprint due to greater efficiency measures, maintaining updated emissions calculation methodologies and reducing our estimated data values, all while continuing to expand our network operations.

Normalizing our electricity use to the data carried on our network, we saw a 53% year-over-year decrease in megawatt hours per petabyte of data carried on our network, and we have been successful in reducing electricity consumption relative to data growth by 67% compared to our baseline year of 2013.

Read about our energy management efforts.

Scope 3 (Other Emissions)

For 2016, we are reporting on several categories of Scope 3 emissions, and we are working to expand our reporting capabilities within this scope.

Business Travel

We continue to measure our business-related travel in our Scope 3 emissions. In 2016, AT&T’s Scope 3 business-related travel (combined air travel and rental car use) increased by 40% compared to 2015. This significant increase is due to the addition of DIRECTV travel volume, and additionally accounts for travel between the U.S. and Mexico and throughout the continental U.S.

Downstream Leased Assets

This category includes emissions from the operation of assets that are owned by AT&T, leased to other entities (e.g., customers) in the reporting year and not already included in Scope 1 or Scope 2. Historically, AT&T has not reported on this Scope 3 category due to data availability. With the acquisition of DIRECTV in 2015, we are able to quantify the estimated electricity and corresponding GHGs from set-top boxes (STBs). In 2016, DIRECTV leased 62,007,222 set-top boxes, which accounted for an additional 2,939,785 metric tons CO2e. Since 2012, the number of customer STBs has increased by 12%, while the total energy consumed by those STBs is down 17%. The result is a reduction of more than 680,000 mtons CO2e.

See our Energy Management issue brief for information on our product energy efficiency efforts.

Supplier Emissions

AT&T is working with the CDP Supply Chain Initiative to collect the emissions from our top suppliers. Because of these efforts, we were able to estimate three Scope 3 supplier emissions categories: purchased goods and services, capital goods, and upstream transportation and distribution. Data is received each year by CDP for the previous year’s emissions, thus data received in 2016 cover 2015 supplier emissions. The economic allocation model is applied in calculating the emission estimates. We continue to work with third-party consulting firms as part of a pre-assurance exercise to assess and improve our methodology, and we will apply lessons learned in future reporting years. Given the annual one-year lag in supplier emissions availability, we are not including them in the overall 2016 Scope 3 emissions total and list them in the 2015 table below.

Scope 3 2015 Supplier Emissions

mtons CO2e

Purchased Goods and Services*


Capital Goods*


Upstream Transportation and Distribution*


*Estimated for three categories only, based on economic allocation of 2015 supplier GHG emissions, revenue and spend data

Read more about our efforts to engage our supply chain

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OSHA Incidents

Our goal is to provide a safe and healthy workplace for all employees — it’s an essential aspect of our Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) policy. We work diligently to protect our employees through the prevention of occupational injuries, illnesses and workplace incidents. We provide job-specific EH&S training to all employees based on established guidelines and record successfully completed courses in each employee’s training record.

In the event an accident occurs in the workplace, our policy is to respond swiftly, investigate contributing factors, determine the root cause and take appropriate corrective actions to protect our employees, neighboring communities and the environment. We require employees to report all alleged work-related injuries, illnesses and accidents. For U.S. operations in 2016, our OSHA total recordable occupational injury and illness rate was 1.75 per 100 employees. This rate is lower than the most recent (2015) average published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the telecommunications industry, which was 2.2 per 100 employees.[1]

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Product Life Cycle

Cell Phone Recycling

AT AT&T, we're always striving to increase cell phone recycling and encourage our customers to be a part of this ongoing initiative. Because a phone's usable life doesn't end after its first owner, collecting these devices makes both business and environmental sense.

At AT&T, customers can recycle their old phones by:

  • Dropping them off at an AT&T retail store recycle bin
  • Taking advantage of the Trade-In Program with an AT&T retail associate or online at
  • Returning their AT&T Next phone when they upgrade

In 2016 AT&T collected approximately 6.98 million devices for reuse and recycling.

When our customers turn in a phone, our goal is to see if the phone can be reused. First, our priority is to protect our customers’ privacy. We offer our customers detailed information about wiping their devices before they return the device. As an additional protection to our customers, once we receive the device, we wipe it of customer-saved data. If the phone can be refurbished, we do so and put it back into the marketplace. This is beneficial from an environmental perspective and has the benefit of making phones more affordable to those who might not be able to purchase a new phone at full cost. If the phone can’t be reused in its entirety, we take it apart and pull out individual parts that might be reusable (e.g., the camera). The remaining plastics and metals are recycled responsibly. These materials end up in consumer products such as cell phones, PCs and tablets.

Read more about cell phone recycling at AT&T.


At AT&T, we are beginning to use a lifecycle approach to evaluate impacts of packaging changes on key sustainability metrics such as energy and water use, greenhouse gas emissions and packaging waste. We strive to ensure that the changes made minimize the environmental impacts of packaging. Our areas of focus include material reuse and reduction, use of environmentally friendly materials, increasing recycled/certified content, improving end-of-life recyclability and improving transportation efficiency. Past projects have focused on our prepaid phone packaging and our broadband and network equipment packaging.

Learn more about our packaging efforts.

AT&T Eco-Rating

It’s easy for customers to compare products on attributes such as cost, technology and appearance. But it’s more difficult for them to gauge the environmental and social aspects of how the devices we sell are made. That’s why we developed the AT&T Eco-Rating system in 2012, and updated it in 2015 with the introduction of Eco-Rating 2.0: a rating system that provides customers with an easy way to understand the environmental—and now social—factors associated with their devices. In 2016, we integrated the Eco-Rating 2.0 information for AT&T-branded devices, including handhelds and tablets, into the buying site, rather than directing employees to a separate portal for this information. This integration makes it easier for customers to access information to help them make better-informed purchasing decisions.

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Supply Chain

For a company to fully understand its economic, environmental and social impact, it needs to understand the impacts and opportunities related to its supply chain. We believe it is important to understand more about the social, economic and environmental performance of our suppliers, and expect our suppliers to share our commitment to citizenship and sustainability (C&S). We engage our suppliers in some the following ways:

Principles of Conduct for Suppliers

We outline our expectations in our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers, which cover topics including sustainable business practices, diversity, conflict minerals, ethics and labor rights.

Conflict Minerals

We’ve actively sought to address the issue of conflict minerals from the conflict zones. Our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers address conflict minerals and confirm AT&T’s expectations that the products we sell will not contain conflict minerals that directly or indirectly finance or benefit armed groups. We reserve the right to suspend or terminate suppliers who fail to demonstrate commitment to this expectation.

As a large device retailer, we encourage the responsible mining of these minerals. We have taken the following steps to address these issues:

  • We do not employ forced, compulsory or slaved labor and have the same expectation for our suppliers. We have a Human Rights Policy and Principles of Conduct for Suppliers that are clear in this respect.
  • We remain involved in this issue through our membership in the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI). Through that membership and our participation in both the Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) and the GeSI Extractives Project Team, we support the continued development of the Conflict-Free Smelter Program and the use of the CFSI Conflict Minerals Reporting Template. Through continued collaboration with suppliers, we are committed to the responsible mining of these minerals.

AT&T has taken rigorous steps to determine the extent to which it may have reporting obligations under Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the SEC’s rules implementing that Act (SEC Conflict Minerals Rules). With respect to the products we sell, AT&T has put in place the following ongoing activities to identify potential reporting obligations:

  • A comprehensive conflict minerals (CM) program, which serves as the documented framework in which AT&T performs the steps required to determine the applicability of, and be in compliance with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rules on Conflict Minerals.
  • A working team that addresses the day-to-day activities associated with complying with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rules on Conflict Minerals.
  • A governance committee that reviews and provides general guidance on conflict minerals compliance activities.
  • An AT&T officer steering committee that provides oversight, guidance and accountability.

To date, AT&T has not had a reporting obligation pursuant to the SEC Conflict Minerals Rules. AT&T will continue to execute the CM Program annually to identify any potential changes to our filing status.

Read more about our efforts on conflict minerals.

Human Rights and Labor Practices

As reflected in our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers, we take issues around labor practices and human rights in our supply chain seriously.

Sustainability Clauses

All of our model supply chain-managed material and services agreements contain a standard Citizenship and Sustainability clause that requires the suppliers to align with AT&T’s Principles of Conduct for Suppliers, and to respond to sustainability-related information requests from AT&T. The clause is standard in all new master agreements as of 2011; AT&T has executed thousands of agreements that contain the clause. We also have several clauses in our contract library that cover sustainability considerations such as energy efficiency.

Contract Manager Training

We train our contract managers, more than 200 sourcing professionals, about sustainability in the supply chain and are providing the tools necessary to engage our strategic suppliers on sustainable business practices. We focus on how the contract managers can work with suppliers to ensure that the suppliers respond to our sustainability survey, with intention to help suppliers improve their performance and scores. As a result we are seeing greater awareness and participation by our suppliers.

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For the purpose if tracking progress toward our goal, we are holding refrigerants, engines and portable generators steady in an effect to align performance with actual emissions changes and avoid an inaccurate representation of our progress.



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