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Energy Management

In 2014, we continued our three-pronged approach to guide our efforts: company-wide energy efficiency initiatives, collaboration and alternative energy.

Energy Efficiency

Energy Savings

In 2014, we implemented 3,911 projects that totaled an annualized savings of $84 million. We estimate that these projects will result in approximately 805 million kWh annualized energy savings. This is equivalent to 555,389 metric tons of CO2-e, which is itself equivalent to the annual emissions of 116,900 passenger vehicles and the electricity used to power 50,600 houses annually, according to the EPA GHG Equivalencies Calculator.

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:

Intensity Metric 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
kWh/ Terabyte 639 486 406 339 274 228 185
MWh/ Petabyte 654 498 415 347 281 233 189
YOY Change -24% -17% -16.5% -19% -16.8% -18.9%

Having successfully achieved the intensity goal that we set for ourselves with a 64 percent reduction in energy intensity from our 2008 baseline, we are now looking ahead. We have myriad transformational projects in the works that will affect our energy footprint by 2020. In 2014, we set a new goal to reduce the electricity consumption of our company relative to data growth on our network by an additional 60 percent by 2020 (baseline of 2013). 

Energy Management

As the foundation of our energy management tracking program, we centrally process all of our utility invoices and extract the energy consumption data from the invoices to manage the program. This energy information is available to all of the internal network operators and real estate managers — who we call the Energy Champions. This accessibility and transparency drive accountability. The Energy Team is also able to benchmark performance, set expectations and see trends over time.

In addition to collecting data from invoices, we perform audits on all facilities at least once every 18 months and the top 1,000 more frequently.

This data is input into the Energy Scorecard, which generates easy-to-understand “grades” at our top 1,000 energy-consuming facilities and 1,000 retail locations. The “grades” are based on energy consumption and activity, including initiatives attempted and training related to energy efficiency projects. The data also allowed us to enter more than 1,300 unique properties — including our top 1,000 facilities — in the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager.

Alternative Energy

At the end of 2014, our alternative energy portfolio included 5.05 megawatts (MW) of solar installations and an additional 17.5 MW of clean, onsite fuel cell power from Bloom Energy Servers, for a total alternative energy capacity of 22.55 MW. These sources of power will produce 153.3 million kWh annually, which is equivalent to the electricity use of over 14,600 homes for a year, per the EPA Equivalencies Calculator. We also continue to participate in Austin Energy’s GreenChoice alternative energy program. 


In 2014, we brought online one solar system in Lancaster, Texas, with 677 kW of capacity.

Fuel cells

In 2014, AT&T and Bloom Energy Corporation installed Bloom Energy servers at four additional sites in California and one in New York. The solid oxide fuel cell technology provides reliable, affordable onsite power that reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 50 percent compared to the grid and virtually eliminates SOx, NOx and other harmful smog forming particulate emissions.


We are always exploring collaborative relationships to expand our alternative energy portfolio. In 2008, 10 percent of our electricity consumption for all AT&T facilities in Austin, Texas came through Austin Energy’s GreenChoice alternative energy program. We continue to source some of our power in Austin through this wind initiative. This effort helps us avoid 7.2 million kWh of fossil fuel-generated electricity each year.


Rocky Mountain Institute

We worked with Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) on their Portfolio RetroFit Challenge. The challenge serves as a vehicle through which companies and RMI can collaborate on the investigation and implementation of deep energy efficiency measures across office buildings. We openly share the results with others that may benefit from the experience.

Environmental Defense Fund

For the fifth year, we participated in the EDF Climate Corps program, an initiative launched by Environmental Defense Fund to help leading companies shave operational costs and reduce emissions by identifying large-scale energy efficiency opportunities. Our EDF fellow helped categorize the scope of potential projects and scale of capital investment required to connect and intelligently monitor HVAC equipment — with a goal of reducing energy and maintenance while aligning with return-on-investment goals.

City of Chicago

In 2012, we joined Retrofit Chicago’s Commercial Building’s Initiative to reduce energy use at our downtown Chicago facility by 20 percent within the next five years. This will also enhance our office space as part of an overall goal to retrofit 50 percent of commercial and industrial building stock. To date, we have completed programs to install motion/occupancy sensors that turn off lighting during low occupancy periods. We’ve also completed a program to install high-efficiency, low-power LED lighting to improve the energy load and extend the life of the lighting that we do need to use.

Read more about our energy management programs.

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Environmental Compliance

We are committed to following the most stringent environmental compliance laws applicable to our operations. When conducting operations abroad, we abide by U.S. environmental compliance laws if they are more rigorous than the laws in the country where we are conducting business. Our operating companies had one significant environmental compliance-related enforcement action (defined as those actions that resulted in sanctions equal to or exceeding $100,000) in 2014.

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Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S)

AT&T has a strong Environmental Management System - and it starts with an Environment, Health & Safety Policy signed by AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson. Our Executive Environmental Council, which is comprised of senior leaders from across AT&T's business units, is charged with implementing this policy. The Council helps ensure AT&T's environmental compliance and works to identify additional areas for improvement.

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 six elements of the management system to ensure compliance with external and internal objectives:

  • General Requirements: As mentioned above, our Environment, Health and Safety (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 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 and understanding its provisions. In 2014, we accomplished an approximately 99.6 percent completion rate on our code training. We train all domestic employees on our EH&S Plan, and we conduct specialized training based on job tasks and the hazards an employee is likely to encounter in his or her position.

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Alternative Fuel Vehicles

We are more than halfway through our commitment to deploy approximately 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs) through 2018. In 2009, we committed to invest up to $565 million to deploy AFVs, and we are making steady progress toward that goal. The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) estimated that our planned AFV commitment would:

  • Create or save — on average — approximately 1,000 jobs per year over the first five years of the initiative
  • Avoid the purchase of 49 million gallons of gasoline over the 10 year commitment

As of end of year 2014, AT&T deployed to its fleet a total of 10,628 alternative fuel vehicles, including: 2,602 hybrid-electric, all-electric and extended-range-electric vehicles, and 8,026 CNG service vehicles. The alternative fuel vehicles in service allowed us to avoid the purchase of 5.9 million gallons of unleaded gasoline in 2014 and 18.3 million gallons of unleaded gasoline cumulatively.

Read more about our fleet commitments.

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG)

We're committed to measuring and understanding our GHG emissions and taking steps to manage them. We've been measuring and disclosing our GHG emissions since 2008. These are our results for 2014.

Our GHG emissions increased slightly in 2014 compared to 2012, both for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.

For our 2014 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 the metric be accurate, and Ernst & Young's increased rigor around this process helps us realize continual, year-over-year improvements in accuracy.


Scope 1 Direct Emissions

Direct emissions account for 11.6 percent of our total GHG emissions, a slight increase in 2014 compared to 2013 — primarily attributed to additional fleet vehicles and increased natural gas consumption due to more Bloom Fuel Cells coming online and a colder winter. More than 62 percent of our direct emissions come from our fleet. Our commitment to operate a more efficient and clean fleet through alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs), anti-idling policies and telematics is helping to keep our Scope 1 emissions minimized even while we add vehicles to the fleet. Much of this progress has been a result of fuel efficiency gained from our adoption of 10,628 AFVs deployed through 2013 and operational efficiency. This is part of AT&T’s commitment to deploy approximately 15,000 AFVs through 2018. Read more about our fleet initiatives.

Another large component of our direct emissions — nearly 10 percent — came from the stationary engines and portable generators that provide back-up power for AT&T. These generators are a critical component of AT&T’s Network Disaster Recovery organization, which works to keep wireless and wired communications flowing when disaster strikes. Generators also provide support for field operations where power is not available.

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 CO2-e. We achieved an adjusted 1,080,808 mtons CO2-e of Scope 1 emissions in 2014, which equates to an almost 8 percent reduction as compared to our 2008 baseline.

Scope 2 (Indirect Emissions)

Our scope 2 emissions account for more than 88 percent of our total GHG emissions. These come from purchased electricity and steam. We saw a modest increase of less than 1 percent on our Scope 2 emissions in 2014 over 2013, which is primarily driven by increased in our electricity footprint as we continue to expand our network operations.

Normalizing our electricity use to the data carried on our network, we did see a 18.9 percent decrease from 2013 in megawatt hours per petabyte of data carried in our network. We were successful in reducing electricity consumption relative to data growth by 71 percent as compared to our baseline year of 2008.

Read about our energy management efforts.


Scope 3 (Other Emissions)

We continue to measure our business-related travel in our scope 3 emissions. We continue to measure our business-related travel in our scope 3 emissions. In 2014, AT&T reduced its Scope 3 business-related travel (combined air travel and rental car) by 10 percent compared to 2013.

To address these GHG emissions, we continued our internal deployment of telepresence to more than 425 telepresence sites spanning 23 countries. In 2014, we realized more than $15 million in travel dollars saved and more than 12,000 mtons of CO2 emissions averted2.

We are applying the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard for tracking and reporting Scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions and are collecting baseline emissions from suppliers. To that end, we are working with the CDP Supply Chain Initiative and EcoDesk to measure the emissions from our top suppliers. We’ve set a goal that by the end of 2015, the majority of our spending with strategic suppliers will be with those who track GHG emissions and have specific GHG goals. Read more about our efforts to engage our supply chain.

As a result of these efforts, in 2014 we were able for the first time to estimate two new scope 3 supplier emissions categories: purchased goods and services and capital goods. This year we’ve been able to add an additional supplier emission category: upstream transportation and distribution. These estimates are based on 2013 supplier emissions and supplier spend data using an economic allocation model. We continue to work with an outside auditing firm as part of a pre-assurance exercise to assess and improve our methodology, and we will apply lessons learned in future reporting years. As this is only our second year reporting these categories, and given the annual lag in supplier emissions availability, we are not including them in the overall 2014 scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions total.

For additional detail about AT&T’s GHG emissions, please see our Methodology and Process Detail document.

Read more about our efforts to engage our supply chain.

Scope 3 2013 Supplier Emissions mtons CO2-e
Purchased Goods and Services* 1,553,860
Capital Goods* 508,382
Upstream Transportation and Distribution* 138,895
*Estimated for two categories only, based on economic allocation of 2012 supplier GHG emissions, revenue and spend data

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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 does occur, it is our policy to respond swiftly and effectively to protect our employees, company assets, neighboring communities and the environment. We require employees to report all alleged work-related injuries, illnesses and accidents. We investigate such incidents and look for opportunities to implement process improvements. For U.S. operations in 2014, our OSHA total recordable occupational injury and illness rate was 1.75 per 100 employees. This rate is lower than the most recent average published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the telecommunications industry, which was 2.1 percent for 2013.

Learn more about how we provide good jobs to our employees.

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Product Stewardship/Recycling

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 Buyback Program with an AT&T retail associate or online with att.com/buyback
  • Returning their AT&T Next phone when they upgrade

In 2014, AT&T collected approximately 4.3 million cell phones for reuse and recycling and 282,500 pounds of batteries and accessories.

When our customers turn in a phone, our goal is to see if a phone can be reused. First, our priority is to protect our customer's privacy. We offer our customers tips and detailed information on wiping their devices before they return at www.att.com/recycle. As an ultimate protection to our customers, once we receive the device, we wipe it of customer-saved data as well. If the phone can be refurbished, we do so and put it back into the marketplace. This is beneficial from an environmental perspective, and it 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: for example, the camera. The remaining plastics and metals are recycled responsibly. These materials end up in consumer products such as cell phones, PCs and tablets.

Furthering our goal of empowering our consumers around sustainability, in 2012 we also launched EcoSpace, a consumer website geared at engaging with our customers around our sustainability story. This site profiles various sustainability initiatives — from our Aspire education commitment to our corporate fleet. This site is also home to our Eco-Rating system.

Read more about cell phone recycling at AT&T.

Packaging & Materials

At AT&T, we are working to improve our product packaging throughout its life cycle, including material reuse and reduction, use of environmentally friendly materials from renewable sources, increasing recycled content and end-of-life recyclability, and improving transportation efficiency. We are beginning to use a life-cycle 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 do minimize the environmental impacts of packaging.

Our 2014 efforts included:

2012 Paper (Baseline) 2013 Paper 2014 Paper Net Impact
Quantity Paper (tons) 3,221.51 2,956.22 2,550.12 -671.39 tons less
Wood Use (tons) 8,419 7,726 6,664 -1,755 tons less
Trees 54,121 49,664 42,842 -11,279 fewer trees
Net Energy (million BTU's) 94,460 86,681 74,774 -19,686 million BTU's less
Greenhouse Gases (pounds COequiv.) 16,045,336 14,724,009 12,701,352 -3,343,984 pounds CO2 equiv. less
Water Consumption (gallons) 62,780,431 57,610,488 49,696,457 -13,083,974 gallons less

AT&T Eco-Rating

In 2012, we launched our Eco-Rating system, an easy-to-understand rating that serves as a way for consumers to make more informed choices by allowing them to better understand important environmental attributes of AT&T-branded mobile devices. Three of the 15 criteria in the rating system account for the use of environmentally preferable materials. In 2014, AT&T launched Eco-Rating 2.0, which expanded the environmental performance system to include AT&T-branded tablet devices that are new to the portfolio in 2015. AT&T Eco-Rating 2.0 also provides a more holistic view of the management practices and impacts of a device’s creation and lifespan. For example, the existing attribute of “responsible manufacturing” now takes into account social components that include conflict minerals usage, human rights policy application and public reporting on occupational safety management systems and factory code of conduct.

Watch this video to learn about the expansion of Eco-Ratings or visit AT&T EcoSpace.

Learn more about our packaging efforts.

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Supply Chain

For a company to fully understand its economic, environmental and social impact, it needs to understand the impact of its supply chain. We believe it is important to understand more about the social 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 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, 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.Before President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank legislation that addressed conflict zone mineral sourcing into law, AT&T worked with non-governmental organizations and our suppliers on this issue:

  • 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.
  • In October 2011, we joined as a participant in the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade (PPA) — an alliance set up by the U.S. State Department, USAID, NGOs and company/industry organizations to address conflict minerals concerns. It promotes solutions to encourage those involved in responsible minerals trade in the DRC and the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa.

AT&T has taken rigorous steps to determine the extent to which it has 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). The SEC Conflict Minerals Rules require public companies that manufacture or contract to manufacture products that contain conflict minerals to make annual disclosures about the use of those minerals.

Although AT&T is not a manufacturer of the products it sells, the SEC Conflict Mineral Rules would nevertheless apply to AT&T if it contracts to manufacture those products. AT&T’s first step in determining the applicability of Dodd-Frank was thus to establish a governance structure. AT&T created (i) a working team to address the day-to-day activities associated with complying with the SEC Conflict Minerals Rules; (ii) a governance committee that reviews and provides general guidance on conflict minerals compliance activities; and (iii) an officer steering committee to provide senior management oversight, guidance and accountability. AT&T also developed a comprehensive Conflict Minerals Management System (CMMS), 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 Conflict Minerals Rules. AT&T will continue to execute the CMMS 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.

AT&T addresses human rights throughout our supplier engagement. AT&T Supply Chain has developed a Supplier Human Rights and Labor Practices Program. As part of that program suppliers accounting for 80 percent of our annual spend receive the AT&T Supplier Sustainability Survey annually. The survey covers general questions on both human rights and labor practices. As an additional step, selected suppliers, based on risk, receive an in-depth questionnaire that addresses aspects of human rights and labor practices, including minimum age requirements, maximum allowable hours worked, prohibiting forced labor and discrimination. The questionnaire assesses both the supplier and the supplier’s supply chain. Finally AT&T reserves the right to audit suppliers on all aspects of its sustainable business practices, including human rights and labor practices.

We also communicate our human rights policy directly to our suppliers. It lives on AT&T’s Supplier Portal, along with other policies and materials that explain our supply chain sustainability approach.

U.S. EPA SmartWay Program

AT&T strives to minimize the environmental impact of transportation by designing and optimizing its transportation and distribution network via route planning, consolidation and shipping full truckloads when possible. AT&T’s involvement in the SmartWay program requires us to benchmark and measure progress in our transport emissions management. This helps us further integrate energy efficiency, air quality and climate change initiatives into our transportation decision-making process. The program will also provide support to identify potential additional carbon reductions and cost savings opportunities in our distribution network

This work has included better route planning and transport optimization, consolidation of network field technician deliveries, ensuring full loads and avoiding empty trips, and incorporating alternative-fuel vehicles. In 2014, more than 99.6 percent of the miles covered by third-party carriers for AT&T were done by carriers that participate in the EPA SmartWay program. We use SmartWay participation as a factor when evaluating potential carriers. To learn more, read about our Company Fleet and Transportation initiatives.

Sustainability Clauses

Our model supply chain material and services agreements contain a clause specifically addressing citizenship and sustainability. The clause highlights our human rights and other policies, and obligates suppliers to adhere to programs no less stringent than our own. 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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1 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.

2 Carbon calculations were derived by Cisco's IBSG, which uses the TRX Airline Carbon Emissions Calculator for impact of air travel avoidance, along with a standard calculation for the impact of ground transportation avoided to and from the meeting and airport, less the impact of energy usage for the Telepresence® application and carbon start up and disposal. Note: Ground transportation to and from the Telepresence® location and airport were assumed equivalent to participants' normal daily commutes, and thus, offset each other.