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Energy Management

In 2012 we adopted a three-pronged approach to guide our efforts: company-wide energy efficiency initiatives, collaboration and alternative energy.

Energy Efficiency

Energy Savings

In 2012, we implemented 5,659 projects that totaled an annualized savings of $65 million. We estimate that these projects will result in approximately 437 million kWh annualized energy savings. This is equivalent to 308,545 metric tons of CO2-e, which is itself equivalent to the annual emissions of 64,280 passenger vehicles and the electricity used to power 46,189 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.

In 2012, our energy intensity as measured by KWh electricity/Terabytes network traffic was 281.
Here is our progress to date:

Intensity Metric 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
kWh/ terabyte 654 498 415 347 281
YOY Change -24% -17% -16.5% -19%

Our energy intensity as measured by MWh electricity/$ billion revue was 114,589.

Looking ahead, we have set a goal to achieve an intensity metric of 262 kWh for each terabyte of traffic that flows over our network by 2014, which represents a 60 percent decrease compared to our 2008 baseline. If we meet this aggressive goal, we will be carrying almost three times as much data for each kWh of electricity we use in 2014 compared to 2008. This goal becomes increasingly ambitious given that wireless data traffic on AT&T’s network has grown more than 30,000 percent from January 2007 through December2012.

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, audits are performed quarterly at our largest 1,000 facilities.

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 1,400 unique properties - including our top 1,000 facilities - in the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager.

Alternative Energy

At the end of 2012, our alternative energy portfolio included 3.5 megawatts (MW) of solar installations and an additional 7.5 MW of clean, onsite fuel cell power from Bloom Energy Servers, for a total alternative energy capacity of 11 MW. These sources of power will produce 68.3 million kWh annually, which is equivalent to the electricity use of over 7,200 homes for a year, per the EPA Equivalencies Calculator. We also continue to participate in Austin Energy’s GreenChoice alternative energy program. 


In 2012, two solar systems came online in New Jersey, providing a combined 573 kW. Due to our business needs, regulatory and financing structures, our efforts in solar have been focused in California and New Jersey.

  • The 107 kW Freehold, N.J. system will produce 128,000 kWh of electricity annually
  • The 466 kW Middletown, N.J. system will produce 656,000 kWh of electricity annually 

Fuel cells

In 2012, AT&T and Bloom Energy Corporation announced that a second wave of Bloom Energy Servers (Bloom Boxes) will be installed at 17 additional AT&T sites in California and Connecticut, making AT&T Bloom Energy’s largest non-utility customer at the time. AT&T was the first telecommunications service provider to utilize Bloom Energy Servers to help power its operations. This breakthrough solid oxide fuel cell technology provides clean, reliable, affordable onsite power that reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 50 percent compared to the grid and virtually eliminates all SOx, NOx and other harmful smog forming particulate emissions.

In addition to the existing 7.5 MW of capacity that was already in operation at the end of 2012, the planned expansion of Bloom Box installations will provide a combined 17.1 MW, helping to power 28 AT&T sites in California and Connecticut when complete. These installations are expected to produce 149 M kWh of energy annually - enough to power approximately 13,680 homes per year.


We are always exploring collaborative relationships to expand our alternative energy portfolio. In Austin, Texas we have continued our involvement with Austin Energy’s GreenChoice alternative energy program, through which we purchase 10 percent of our electricity consumption for all AT&T facilities in the area. This effort will help us avoid 7.2 million kWh of fossil fuel-generated electricity each year.


Rocky Mountain Institute

We are currently working 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 and we will share the results with others that may benefit from the experience.

Environmental Defense Fund

For the third 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. In 2012, we hosted two Climate Corps fellows. One helped develop a plan for installing energy dashboard systems at 600 AT&T locations, which could save up to 5 percent of electricity consumption. The other focused on how to use less water in our buildings’ cooling towers.

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, this initiative has resulted in a 30 percent energy reduction.

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 2012.

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Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S)

AT&T has a strong Environmental Management System (EMS) - 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.

The company has over 100 EH&S-related procedures that are updated at least every 3 years or sooner if needed. We also have an EH&S compliance staff and organizational structure organized around the Plan, Do, Check, Act model and follows a management system that is based on the principles of  OHSAS 18001 and ISO 14001. This organizational structure includes:

  • Technical Support: Develops EH&S programs and compliance training to comply with legal requirements.
  • Field Support: Assesses business unit EH&S compliance. EH&S assessments are performed for a selected sample of AT&T facilities by facility type. A standard facility-based protocol exists that allows the assessor to pull questions applicable to the facility type being assessed. All findings are documented in an online assessment system where corrective actions are tracked. In 2009, AT&T assessed over 2,300 facilities with over 300 being conducted at randomly selected facilities by facility type. In addition, AT&T performed, over 600 focused reviews (only one section of the protocol), over 1,800 work observations (employees performing their work) and over 200 EH&S Plan Reviews. (Each business unit (BU) has an individualized EH&S Plan with specific targets. EH&S monitors work groups' compliances with their BU's plan.) AT&T also performed programmatic audits on key topics.
  • Compliance Data Management: Implements compliance activities, such as centralized permitting/registration of tanks and air emission sources, DOT compliance and OSHA recordkeeping.
  • EH&S Information Systems: Develops the Compliance Data Management System (CDMS) to manage environmental activities, including, but not limited to, tank, air, incident management and hazardous waste and safety activities, including, but not limited to, lockout/tagout, ergonomics, and injury/incident reporting.
  • Strategic Compliance Partners: Works with business units (via EH&S Business Unit Coordinators) on systemic opportunities for EH&S improvement.

Throughout each of these groups, AT&T has specialized professionals who serve as incident managers. These individuals manage regulatory inspections as well as any unexpected EH&S-related emergencies by working with the site personnel and others in the business units.

View our EH&S Management System Table.

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Alternative Fuel Vehicles

In 2009, we made a commitment to invest up to $565 million to deploy approximately 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs) over a 10-year period through 2018. That year, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) estimated that the planned alternative fuel vehicle 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

By the end of 2012, we had deployed 7,061 AFVs, including 5,226 CNG vehicles and 1,806 hybrid electric vehicles. AT&T has also deployed three all-electric vehicles (AEVs) - a Smith Newton cargo truck in St. Louis, Missouri, and a total of two Ford Transit Connect Electric vans in Dallas, Texas, and Los Angeles, Calif. - and 26 extended range electric vehicles (EREVs), Chevy Volts, deployed to 10 states nationwide. The Smith Newton truck located in St. Louis is one of the world’s largest electric, battery-powered trucks.

The alternative-fuel vehicles in service allowed us to avoid the purchase of 3.6 million gallons of unleaded gasoline in 2012 and 7.7 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 2012.

For our 2012 greenhouse gas inventory, we obtained independent assurance of our Scope 1, 2 and 3 (business travel) emissions from Ernst & Young. Their statement can be found in this Independent Accountant's Report.

Our GHG emissions decreased in 2012 compared to 2011, both for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.

Scope 1 Direct Emissions

Direct emissions account for 10.6 percent of our total GHG emissions. These emissions were down from 2012 compared to 2011. Almost 64 percent of our direct emissions come from our fleet. Our commitment to operate a more efficient and clean fleet through alternative fuel vehicles, anti-idling policies and telematics led to an overall decrease in Scope 1 emissions. Much of this progress has been a result of fuel efficiency gained from our adoption of 7,061 alternative fuel vehicles deployed through 2012 and operational efficiency. This is part of AT&T’s commitment to deploy approximately 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles through 2018. Read more about our fleet initiatives.

Another large component of our direct emissions - more than 11 percent - came from the stationary engines and portable generators that provide back-up power for AT&T. These generators are an important 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 2020, using a 2008 Scope 1 baseline of 1,172,476 mtons CO2-e.*
We achieved an adjusted 937,917 mtons CO2-e of Scope 1 emissions in 2012, which equates to a 20 percent reduction as compared to our 2008 baseline.**

* For the purposes of tracking progress toward our goal, we are holding refrigerants, engines and portable generators steady in an effort to align performance with actual emissions changes and avoid an inaccurate representation of our progress.
** The primary contributor to this significant reduction in emissions is the progress we have made in increasing the efficiency of our fleet operations. The total Scope 1 reduction occurred faster than we anticipated because our use of natural gas was substantially lower than we expected due to a warm winter and a slower ramp-up of natural gas used for our Bloom Box fuel cells. We plan to keep our Scope 1 goal in place because we expect to see an increase in our use of clean natural gas as we bring more Bloom Box fuel cells online in coming years. This will reduce electricity consumption from the grid but will increase our natural gas consumption.

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 more than a 2 percent decrease in these emissions in 2012 over 2011.

Normalizing our electricity use to the data carried on our network, we did see a 19 percent decrease from 2011 in kilowatt hours per terabyte of data carried on our network. We also have a goal to reduce the electricity consumption of our company relative to data growth on our network by 60 percent as compared with year 2014 (baseline 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. To address these GHG emissions, we continued our internal deployment of telepresence to more than 240 telepresence sites spanning more than 20 countries. In 2012, our company collectively logged more than 100,000 telepresence meeting hours. Over that same period, we realized more than $19 million in travel dollars saved and more than 11,600 metric tons of CO2 emissions averted.

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. In 2013 we are focusing on collecting data from suppliers in the categories of purchased goods & services and capital goods. Over the next five years we plan to track and report on additional scope 3 supplier emissions categories. To that end, we are working with the CDP Supply Chain Initiative and EcoDesk to measure the emissions from our top suppliers. Each year we send the CDP Supply Chain survey to suppliers who represent approximately 80 percent of our total spend. We know that the majority of our spending is with suppliers who track GHG emissions or have plans to do so. 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.

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

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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 2012, 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 for 2012.

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

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Product Stewardship/Recycling

Cell Phone Recycling

In 2012 we focused heavily on our recycling program, launching a Trade-In program where customers can trade in their old phone for an AT&T credit or donate the value to the non-profit Cell Phones for Soldiers.

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

  • Dropping off their old phones at an AT&T retail store recycle bin
  • Trading In their old phone with an AT&T retail associate
  • Trading in their old phones online by visiting https://att.com/tradeinprogram

In 2012, AT&T collected approximately 3.1 million cell phones for reuse and recycling and 1.17 million pounds of batteries and accessories.

  • There are several ways customers can recycle their old phones. Customers can:
  • Deposit their phones at drop-off bins in all of our retail locations.
  • Pick up free, prepaid mailing envelopes in stores and online - postage-paid mailing labels are available at att.com/recycle.

As a way to engage consumers around recycling and empowering them to get involved, we worked with Guinness World Records to break the record for number of cell phones recycled in a week. By recycling 50,942 devices during a one-week period, AT&T customers broke the world record for collecting the most cell phones for recycling in a week, as certified by Guinness World Records.

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.


We strive first and foremost to minimize the amount of packaging used for our products, and when packaging is necessary, choose materials that have low environmental impact.


Since 2009, we have saved over 800 tons of packaging. In 2012 alone, we saved over 300 tons of paper and plastic in our accessory packaging.

This built upon our 2011 introduction of a new accessory packaging composed of up to 30 percent plant-based materials. The plastic is sourced from ethanol harvested from natural sugarcane that is a rapidly renewable agricultural crop and replaces nearly a third of the fossil fuels traditionally used.

Cooperation with Original Equipment Manufacturer Device Suppliers

In cooperation with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) device suppliers, the following goals were met for new handset models in the AT&T mobility portfolio:

  • Reduce packaging, use non-petroleum-based inks and use recycled materials in documentation
  • Suppliers to use a minimum of 10 percent non-virgin stock for inbox materials
  • Create uniform/standardized handset boxes that reduce our current box size by 20 percent across the majority of our handset portfolio

AT&T Eco-Rating

In 2012, we launched our Eco-Rating system, a consumer-friendly and easy-to-understand rating system 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 are for the use of environmentally preferable materials in products and packaging. Consumers can find the Eco-Rating information on new AT&T-branded postpaid handset devices.

Learn more about our packaging efforts.

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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 guidelines, which cover topics including sustainable business practices, diversity, ethics and labor rights. 

Conflict Minerals

Use of minerals from the conflict zones of the Democratic Republic of Congo and surrounding areas is an important human rights issue that requires increased supply chain transparency. AT&T is a member of the Global Electronics Sustainability Initiative and also has signed on with the Private-Public Alliance for Responsible Trade with the U.S. State Department. These organizations are developing standard processes to address issues relating to conflict minerals. Read more about our efforts on conflict minerals.

Labor Practices and Human Rights

As reflected in our Supplier Sustainability Principles, we take issues around labor practices and human rights in our supply chain seriously. In 2012, we began working with our suppliers on assessing and, in some cases, auditing their labor practices and human rights policies and performance. In 2013, we will continue this engagement to include additional suppliers.

U.S. EPA SmartWay Program

AT&T’s involvement in the SmartWay program requires us to benchmark and measure progress in our transport emissions management. This will help 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.

Sustainability Clauses

Our contract library contains a clause specifically addressing citizenship and sustainability (C&S), as well as several clauses that cover sustainability considerations like energy efficiency. The C&S clause is embedded in models that are used by contract managers when creating new agreements, and covers expectations that the supplier abides by the Principles of Conduct for Suppliers, and that the supplier responds to requests from AT&T on sustainability. 

Contract Manager Training

In 2013, we are beginning to train our contract managers about sustainability in the supply chain and are providing the tools necessary to engage our strategic suppliers on sustainable business practices. By training the people who know our suppliers most closely, we’re hoping to set expectations about the resource efficiency and social issues associated with the products and services they provide to us. Learn more about how we’re engaging our suppliers on sustainability.

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