Effective energy management has a direct impact on a company’s bottom line, is an important environmental consideration and is critical to the competitiveness of our business and the reliability of our service to customers.
1Electricity is a subset of total energy. Electrical energy represents approximately 78% of total AT&T energy consumption globally. Other forms of energy include all forms of steam and all types of fuel use.
2Data restated due to improvements in data collection, analysis and reporting methodology. Additionally, beginning in 2017, we incorporated the production and consumption of our alternative and renewable energy portfolio (on-site solar and fuel-cell energy, purchased wind energy) into our data.
3 Electricity use is the numerator and is a proxy for total energy use. Total traffic volume (network traffic payload and calculated satellite payload) is the denominator and is a proxy for our production. In 2018 and going forward, we include satellite traffic in our total network traffic. Prior to this addition, our 2018 energy intensity metric would have been 100 MWh/petabyte. Learn more about how we calculate total traffic for our energy intensity metric above.
4Data from 2016 and earlier did not include solar, wind or fuel-cell energy in the total energy mix.
Our approach to energy management is constantly evolving. We continuously explore new strategies and creative ways to more efficiently manage the energy we use.
The AT&T Energy Policy was established and signed by our Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson in 2009 and states that, “as a global communications leader, effective energy management is critical to the competitiveness of our business and the reliability of our service to customers.” It also outlines our commitment to “developing, in our offices and labs, new technologies and approaches to energy use” and calls for a comprehensive energy strategy with clear goals, metrics and management systems.
The policy launched a new era of company energy management, beginning with the creation of a full-time energy management team staffed by certified energy and project management professionals. The Assistant Vice President of Energy leads the team and oversees AT&T energy management efforts and direction, as well as associated budgets.
Information about energy use and efficiency projects is provided to the Corporate Social Responsibility Governance Council, which is comprised of senior executives and officers with responsibility for the business areas most linked to current CSR priorities. This council is led by our Chief Sustainability Officer, who works with the Public Policy and Corporate Reputation Committee of the AT&T Board of Directors to achieve a wide range of specific, sustainable business objectives.
Our Energy Management organization oversees a broad range of programs, including deregulated purchase strategies, regulated rate optimization, authorship of corporate energy and infrastructure policy directives, and development and implementation of scaled energy efficiency and energy conservation measures (EEM/ECM).
Our energy management systems, strategies and framework are reflective of ISO 50001 principles, including:
- Establishment of a defined Energy Policy
- Identification of suitable targets (buildings, systems, types of actions) for application of the Energy Policy
- Use of data-driven decision making
- Critical evaluation of results of decisions
- Continuous improvement and adjustment to policies and systems to reflect advancement in energy management capabilities and best-in-class practice
Over the last several years, energy management systems have evolved. Today, we increasingly rely on information flowing from fully instrumented buildings and systems, energy use data feeds from serving utilities, and machine learning capabilities to steer our program direction.
We also take action to reduce energy consumption from non-renewable sources. We approach this in 3 ways:
- Invest: Purchasing large-scale renewable energy contracts that deliver clean energy to local grids and reduce our overall Scope 2 emissions
- Reduce and right-size: Eliminating unnecessary load by both removing power from unnecessary assets and properly diminishing capacity commensurate with the demand placed on AT&T services
- Optimize: Incorporating energy-efficient systems, products, methods and practices into building infrastructure and monitoring the holistic operation and energy performance of buildings and systems to identify and address energy-impacting maintenance deficiencies and opportunities
- Alternative Energy
We work with internal and external organizations to identify better ways to source energy, including through the incorporation of renewable energy into our portfolio.In 2018, AT&T announced one of the largest corporate renewable energy purchases in U.S. history. AT&T invested in up to 820 MW of wind power through several agreements with subsidiaries of NextEra Energy Resources, the world’s largest operator of renewable energy projects. The projects are estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking more than 530,000 cars off the road or providing electricity for more than 372,000 homes per year. 5 5 Equivalency calculated using the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator The wind projects began generating renewable energy in early 2019.In addition, on-site generation of alternative and renewable electricity included 4.6 MW of solar installations, 46.2 MW of fuel-cell power from Bloom Energy servers and 0.82 MW of wind capacity — for a total alternative energy capacity of 51.6 MW. These on-site power sources produce 368 million kWh annually, which is equivalent to the annual electricity use of more than 31,000 homes. 6 6 Equivalency calculated using the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator
AT&T continues to focus on ways to reduce the footprint associated with our electricity consumption, including through the evaluation of renewable energy opportunities as part of our broader climate change mitigation strategy.
- Energy Projects
At AT&T, we are always looking for ways to embrace advanced technologies and big-data analytics in the routine management of business functions. This is evident in our use of technology to support our energy efficiency goals and objectives.
We track and archive our global past, present and potential energy projects to facilitate all manners of energy reporting and analysis, project planning, energy commodity purchases and coordination of funding.
In 2018, we invested more than $104 million to implement 28,600 projects that amount to gross annualized savings of $51.1 million. Since 2010, we have implemented more than 111,000 energy efficiency projects, resulting in annualized energy savings of nearly 6.75 billion kWh and cost savings of $626 million.
Facilities and Data CentersWe undertake thousands of energy efficiency projects in our facilities and data centers every year. These projects include smaller efforts, such as fixing a leaking chilled- water valve or replacing a lighting fixture with a high-efficiency model, as well as more advanced initiatives, including air-handler efficiency and controls upgrades, lighting retrofits, variable frequency drive (VFD) installations and replacement of entire systems such as chillers. These projects provided annualized savings of more than 151 million kWh and nearly $10 million in 2018. From a payback perspective, projects to improve facility energy savings will generally be realized in approximately 2.5 years or less. Our 2018 projects will save an amount of electricity equivalent to what would be required to provide electricity to nearly 13,000 homes for a year. 7 7 Equivalency calculated using the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator
At our data centers, we are committed to pursuing energy efficiency while providing a productive and efficient space for our equipment. Common projects include the replacement of older air conditioning equipment (chillers and compressors) with more efficient equipment, VFD retrofits and other enhancements that help us use existing equipment more efficiently. In 2018, we sold several of our data centers, further reducing our energy consumption.
AT&T considers sustainability as one of the variables in the design and construction process of any new data center. We look at sustainable design and LEED-qualifying solutions for water, energy and waste. Our newest data center is LEED Gold–certified and features energy efficiency and resource conservation measures such as rainwater harvesting.Project iCON (intelligent Connection Of facility Networks) is helping to revolutionize the way we manage and, ultimately, reduce our energy usage. Project iCON uses our network to acquire and centrally manage valuable performance data from facility equipment across the country. This allows us to understand performance baselines, monitor equipment status and identify required maintenance actions in real time, reducing unnecessary energy use and maintenance. In 2018, we continued integrating Project iCON at facilities and began studying how to leverage the building performance data, our own building management system programming capabilities and detailed utility meter data. 8 8 Interval meter data is energy use data captured in small increments (e.g., every 15 minutes). This provides a granular view into how a building is using energy throughout days and months, irrespective of billing period. The data offers greater insights into equipment operation and health. The next phase of this project focuses on integrating Project iCON data, near-real time utility meter data and machine learning to improve our building infrastructure using data-driven insights.
The modernization of our networks presents enormous opportunities to improve our energy utilization:
- Network Architecture:In 2018, the AT&T Network organizations continued a decommissioning program designed to improve overall asset utilization through the systematic decommissioning and removal of obsolete network capacity and hardware. We’re also shifting control from hardware to software to make our network faster, simpler and more scalable. The software-defined network allows us to make advances in minimizing unused capacity, unnecessary energy expense and real-estate square footage.
- Mobility Network: The cell sites that support our wireless coverage are significant contributors to the AT&T energy footprint. We are creating industry-leading innovations to reduce cell site energy consumption. We are leveraging our Open Network Automation Platform — together with industry-leading, patented machine learning–based analytics — to make intelligent decisions that safely allow a subset of a cell site’s capacity to temporarily go into a sleep mode, maintaining activation of capacity only to the level needed to satisfy demand in a given time and location. This intelligence will determine the timing and duration of the sleep mode, enabling us to reduce our energy footprint while maintaining a premium customer experience. Deployment of 5G technology will yield further enhancements to this capability, making network capacity more fluid and extending this active demand/capacity balance to base stations and core network elements alike.
- Energy Management Platform
Making energy data accessible and clear to energy managers across the company is essential to success. Each month, utility invoices are uploaded to a centralized platform accessible to internal network operators, real-estate managers and other AT&T employees who manage energy use. The energy team uses this data to benchmark energy performance, set expectations and budgets, and assess use trends over time. Also, through the energy platform, employees and contractors across all organizations can access facility-level energy data and utilize state-of-the-art energy management tools to inform decisions and analysis.
Billing and rate reviews are conducted on all facilities at least once every 18 months. The top 800 energy-consuming buildings are reviewed more frequently due to the nature of their energy usage and billing patterns. We routinely share information about energy performance across our entire real-estate operations.
Our energy scorecard is central to our energy management program. It provides much-needed visibility for facility energy consumption and project activity. Fed by a centralized database, the scorecard generates easy-to-understand grades at our top 1,800 energy-consuming facilities and retail locations. The grades are based on energy consumption and activity, including initiatives related to energy efficiency projects. Scorecards are available to facility managers, making energy consumption performance data available across the team. We have found that this increased visibility is helping to set goals and promote innovation through shared learning.
Energy IntensityThe global scope of our business and scale of our network operations make it challenging to measure and track our energy efficiency. We have established an energy intensity metric to measure our electricity usage relative to our total traffic carried on both our terrestrial and satellite networks. 9 9 Electricity is a subset of total energy. Electrical energy represents approximately 78% of total AT&T energy consumption globally. Other forms of energy include all forms of steam and all types of fuel use. This allows us to see the progress of our efficiency-enhancing efforts at a time when increasing network and service-delivery demands directly impact electricity use. 10 10 Electricity is a subset of total energy. Electrical energy represents approximately 78% of total AT&T energy consumption globally. Other forms of energy include all forms of steam and all types of fuel use. Data from 2016 and earlier did not include solar, wind or fuel-cell energy in the total energy mix.
Our 2020 target of 93 MWh/PB represents a 60% reduction from the 2013 baseline of 233 MWh/PB. Though AT&T set an aggressive goal for reducing electricity consumption in MWh/PB of 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. Through the end of 2018, we achieved 130% of our reduction goal, despite significant growth in our operational footprint in Mexico and Latin America.
The introduction of DIRECTV satellite broadcast technology to our network helped AT&T surpass the above energy intensity target well ahead of schedule. Satellite technology allows multiple AT&T customers to simultaneously receive high-definition — and even 4K — broadcasts without individually drawing bandwidth from our terrestrial network. Now that we have exceeded our energy intensity reduction goal, we are looking at new ways in which AT&T can achieve even greater network efficiency in the future.
Energy Intensity Methodology
The methodology for our energy intensity metric was developed to allow long-term, consistent efficiency tracking. Different companies’ networks are configured to carry traffic in different ways, so it is difficult to compare one network to another. Relative performance of a network over time, using a consistent methodology, is a more accurate measure of success.
Our energy intensity metric is made up of 2 components:
- Electricity consumption in MWh (numerator) and
- Traffic payload in petabytes (PB) (denominator).
Our electricity consumption (numerator) includes all electricity required to operate our global enterprise, representing a combination of purchased, generated and leased electricity.The traffic (denominator) includes data from all network layers carried over copper, fiber and satellite transport methods. In 2018, we calculated our total network traffic to include satellite traffic. 11 11 Electricity use is the numerator and is a proxy for total energy use. Total traffic volume (network traffic payload and calculated satellite payload) is the denominator and is a proxy for our production. In 2018 and going forward, we include satellite traffic in our total network traffic. Prior to this addition, our 2018 energy intensity metric would have been 100 MWh/petabyte. Learn more about how we calculate total traffic for our energy intensity metric above. All future disclosures of the energy intensity metric will include both satellite and terrestrial traffic. AT&T total network traffic payload covers content/data carried on all AT&T global networks. This includes:
- All packet data traffic (Ethernet, frame relay, ATM and IP)
- Voice network traffic (TDM, IP, wireless (U.S. and Mexico))
- Consumer broadband distribution
- Video connections to subscribers in the U.S. and Latin America
- Video data received by DIRECTV video subscribers
Our network traffic calculation is a comprehensive measurement. We took extreme care to ensure traffic was counted only once to prevent inaccuracies in traffic volume. Where actual traffic measurements were not available, AT&T took a disciplined approach in estimating such traffic, ensuring it was not counted elsewhere.
At AT&T, we recognize the value and importance of making energy use and efficiency fully visible, particularly to those best positioned to make changes and improvements. To this end, we have tailored policies, organizational structures, processes and tools to help make sure our workforce is engaged in the energy management effort.
Since the acquisition of WarnerMedia in June 2018 and the launch of Xandr in September 2018, we are continuing to integrate operationally and through our CSR reporting. For this reason, information for these 2 affiliates is not included in this brief, except where specifically referenced.
More Environment Issue Briefs