Effective energy management directly impacts a company’s bottom line and is an important environmental consideration. It is critical to the competitiveness of our business and the reliability of our service to customers.
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1 Electricity is a subset of total energy. Electrical energy represents approximately 81% of total AT&T energy consumption globally. Other forms of energy include steam, chilled water and all types of fuel use.
2 Electricity use is the numerator and is a proxy for total energy use. Total number of subscribers (North America wireless, wireline voice and domestic broadband) as identified in our 2020 Annual Report is the denominator and is a proxy for our production.
3 From 2016 to 2019, AT&T utilized intensity metrics relative to data traffic on our network (denominator), including satellite traffic. After achieving our 2020 water and energy intensity goals in 2019, we have transitioned to intensity metrics relative to our total number of subscribers (North America wireless, wireline voice and domestic broadband) as identified in our 2020 Annual Report.
TOPIC: Alternative & Renewable Energy
2020 TARGET: Expand alternative energy use through on-site capacity and pursuit of off-site renewables.
PROGRESS: Expanded our clean energy portfolio.
In addition to our on-site solar and fuel cell installations, AT&T is one of the largest corporate purchasers of renewable energy in the U.S., and we’ll continue to expand our portfolio, where feasible. As part of our previous commitment to purchase more than 1.5 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity domestically, in 2020, we announced an agreement representing more than 500 megawatts of solar energy – the largest U.S. corporate solar energy deal to date.
The estimated energy production of our domestic renewable energy portfolio is more than 2.3 GWh annually, with more than 4.7 million kWh coming from on-site sources and more than 2.31 billion kWh from our off-site solar and wind contracts currently in production.
TOPIC: Greenhouse Gas Emissions
PROGRESS: Reduced 736,785 metric tons of CO2e.
Our reported Scope 1 and 2 emissions were 5,788,258 metric tons of CO2e in 2020. This represents a year-over-year reduction of 736,785 metric tons (or 11.3%) from 2019.
Our approach to energy management is constantly evolving. We continuously explore new strategies to manage the energy we use more efficiently and incorporate renewable energy into our portfolio.
We take action to reduce energy consumption from non-renewable sources and source portions of our energy from renewable sources. We approach this effort in 3 ways:
- Investment: Purchasing large-scale renewable energy contracts that deliver clean energy to local grids and reduce our overall Scope 2 emissions
- Reductions and right-sizing: Eliminating unnecessary load by removing power from obsolete assets and properly diminishing capacity commensurate with the customer demand for services through a given technology or platform
- Optimization: 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
We work with an integrated energy services provider to compile, analyze and produce annual reports related to our energy use. The content of those reports and all methods related to data calculation, estimation and aggregation are reviewed each year to identify opportunities for improvement. We also obtain independent assurance of select energy figures. For our 2020 reporting, TruCost assured calculations of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and select energy inventory. TruCost’s rigor in this process helps us realize continual, year-over-year improvements in accuracy. Learn more in the Independent Accountant’s Report.
We provide information about energy use, efficiency projects and renewable energy purchases to AT&T’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Governance Council, which is composed of senior executives and officers with responsibility for the business areas linked to our most important 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, sustainability-related business objectives.
The AT&T Energy Policy, established in 2009, states, “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. Led by the Assistant Vice President of Network Engineering in the Implementation, Provisioning and Optimization organization, the energy team oversees a broad range of programs, including deregulated purchase strategies, regulated utility rate optimization, authorship of corporate energy and infrastructure policy directives, renewable energy purchases, and development and implementation of scaled energy efficiency and energy conservation measures.
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 practices
Over the last several years, our energy management systems have evolved. Today, we increasingly rely on information flowing from fully instrumented buildings and platforms, energy use data feeds from serving utilities, and machine learning capabilities to help steer our program direction.
We work with internal and external organizations to identify better ways to source energy, including through the incorporation of renewable energy into our portfolio.
AT&T continues to be one of the largest corporate purchasers of renewable energy in the United States. As part of our previous commitment to purchase more than 1.5 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity domestically, in 2020 we announced an agreement representing 500 megawatts of solar energy – the largest U.S. corporate solar energy deal to date.
The estimated energy production of our domestic renewable energy portfolio (both on- and off-site) is more than 2.3 GWh annually, with more than 4.7 million kWh coming from on-site sources. Most of our renewable energy now comes from off-site solar and wind contracts currently in production, along with hydropower received through supply contracts.
In Argentina, we’ve reached a 1,200 MWh/year agreement to contribute renewable energy to the grid supporting our DIRECTV central office through 2025. And in Mexico, we’re implementing a 40 GWh/year agreement to supply renewable energy to approximately 1,200 network sites.
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 energy reporting and analysis, project planning, energy commodity purchases and coordination of funding. In 2020, we invested more than $100 million to implement approximately 8,800 projects that amount to gross annualized savings of nearly $40 million. Since 2010, we have implemented nearly 147,000 energy efficiency projects, resulting in annualized energy savings of nearly 7.6 billion kWh and cost savings of $694 million.
AT&T’s Energy and Building Management Solution (EBMS) is changing how we manage our operations and ultimately reduce our energy consumption. EBMS uses our network to gather and centrally manage performance data from facility equipment across the country, which allows us to understand performance baselines, monitor equipment status and move from reactive to predictive maintenance – all while reducing unnecessary energy use. In 2020, we continued integrating EBMS across our footprint, with deployment complete at approximately 985 facilities.
Using EBMS building data, weather data and interval utility meter data, AT&T introduced a program to optimize energy use at nearly 175 central offices. We tailored the building management system programming, ensured critical mechanical repairs were completed and, where applicable, implemented machine learning capabilities at select sites. Machine learning enables the building to automatically adapt to changing loads and weather conditions without human intervention. By implementing these optimization efforts, AT&T realized approximately 6% total building energy savings, on average for larger facilities that included mechanical repairs. At smaller facilities where the building management system programming was optimized, AT&T realized about a 2.5% total building energy savings. We are continuing to deploy EBMS and the central office optimization program in 2021.
We also invest in our infrastructure to facilitate more sustainable studio operations. Warner Bros. built the ﬁrst “green” soundstage in the world in 2009, receiving LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Learn more in our Product Life Cycle issue brief.
We have opportunities to improve our energy use as we modernize our networks. In 2020, nearly 5,300 projects focused on reducing network energy use, generating annualized savings of nearly 241 million kWh and $18 million. In 2020, the AT&T Network organizations continued several transformation and decommissioning programs designed to improve overall asset utilization through the systematic decommissioning and removal of obsolete and outmoded network capacity and hardware. We continue to shift control from hardware to software to make our network faster, simpler and more scalable. Our software-defined network allows us to make advances in minimizing unused capacity, unnecessary energy expense and real estate square footage.
Energy Management Platform
Making energy data accessible and clear to energy managers across the company is essential to success. Each month, more than 350,000 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. All bills are subjected to careful audit to identify anomalous usage and ensure proper application of all charges. The energy team uses this data to benchmark energy performance, set expectations and budgets, and assess usage trends over time. Employees and contractors across all organizations can access a dashboard in the energy platform with facility-level energy data and state-of-the-art energy management tools to inform decisions and analysis.
Our energy scorecard is central to our energy management program. It provides much-needed visibility for facility energy consumption and project activity. Fed by the energy management platform, the scorecard generates easy-to-understand grades of our top 800 energy-consuming facilities and 1,000 energy-consuming 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 helps set goals and promote innovation through shared learning.
Net Emissions Goal
AT&T has committed to be carbon neutral across its entire global operations by 2035. The company will achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions5 – the yearly equivalent of 1,104,036 homes’ electricity use7 – by focusing on 6 key initiatives:
- Virtualizing network functions: AT&T will eliminate significant portions of energy-intense network equipment and rely instead on low-cost, energy-efficient hardware that can virtualize network equipment functions. As a result, the company will be able to deploy new capabilities faster, utilize less energy and lower its greenhouse gas emissions footprint. The company currently has 75% of its core network functions virtualized.
- Transitioning to a low-emissions fleet: AT&T will continue bringing down emissions from its operational fleet by optimizing routes, switching to hybrid vehicles and reducing the overall size of the fleet. The company is also planning for the decarbonization of its fleet.
- Accelerating energy efficiency and network optimization efforts: Each year, AT&T implements thousands of energy efficiency projects across its network and operations, bringing down electricity use and reducing costs.
- Expanding sustainable feature film and TV production: WarnerMedia reduces the energy and resource consumption associated with film and television production through clean-tech solutions, sustainable products, and waste reduction and reuse eﬀorts. 8 8 In May 2021, we entered into an agreement to combine our WarnerMedia segment, subject to certain exceptions, with a subsidiary of Discovery, Inc. The transaction is subject to approval by Discovery shareholders and customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals.
- Supporting the renewable energy marketplace: By entering into power purchase agreements with renewable energy developers, AT&T reduces its emissions footprint, hedges against rising energy costs and helps to add more clean electricity to the U.S. power grid.
- Investing in carbon offsets: Though AT&T aims to reduce its footprint to as close to zero emissions as possible, there may be some sources of emissions that cannot be eliminated. In these cases, the company will invest in carbon offsets to cover the associated emissions.