Effective energy management has a direct impact on 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.
1 Electricity is a subset of total energy. Electrical energy represents approximately 80% 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 traffic volume (network traffic payload and calculated satellite payload) is the denominator and is a proxy for our production. As of 2018, we include satellite traffic in our total network traffic.
2020 Goal: We will continue to drive reductions in emissions and increases in resource efficiency and alternative energy deployment. We will enable AT&T customers to lead more sustainable lives by expanding access to technology, further integrating sustainability solutions into products and measuring the impacts.
2025 Goal: AT&T will enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of our operations by enhancing the efficiency of our network and delivering sustainable customer solutions.
Targets & Progress
2020 TARGET: Reduce electricity consumption 60% relative to data traffic on our network (our energy intensity metric) by 2020 from our 2013 baseline of 233 MWh electricity/petabyte of network traffic.
network traffic. 2 2 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. As of 2018, we include satellite traffic in our total network traffic. This represents an 80% reduction from our 2013 baseline of 233 MWh/PB.
2020 TARGET: Expand alternative energy through on-site capacity and pursuit of off-site renewables.
PROGRESS: In addition to our on-site solar and fuel cell installations, in 2019, we signed agreements to expand our clean energy portfolio to more than 1.5 gigawatts of capacity, maintaining AT&T’s position as one of the largest corporate purchasers of renewable energy in the U.S. The estimated energy production of our entire renewable energy portfolio is more than 2.2 billion kWh annually, with nearly 300 million kWh coming from on-site sources and more than 1.9 billion kWh from our off-site solar and wind contracts currently in production.
2025 TARGET: Enhance network efficiency to achieve a net-positive ratio between our operational footprint and the carbon reductions our technology makes possible for customers using our services.
PROGRESS: We continue to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions through extensive energy efficiency efforts in our buildings and network, optimization of our vehicle fleet, and our large-scale renewable energy purchases. We also continue to leverage our technology to identify opportunities for additional improvements in operational efficiency.
Our approach to energy management is constantly evolving. We continuously explore new strategies to more efficiently manage the energy we use and incorporate renewable energy into our portfolio.
We take action to reduce energy consumption from non-renewable sources and to source portions of our energy from 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
We work with an integrated energy services provider to compile, analyze and produce annual reports related to our energy use. The content 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 2019 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 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.
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. Today, the Assistant Vice President of Network Engineering and Global Infrastructure Optimization & Implementation leads all of the teams that oversee these efforts:
- The Energy Team oversees a broad range of programs, including deregulated purchase strategies, regulated 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.
- The Switched Trunking and Mobility Access Network Optimization Team optimizes our access and transport networks by identifying opportunities for asset decommission and cost avoidance with partner organizations.
- The Transport, Optimization & Ethernet Process Planning Engineering Team manages how we release and power down our legacy data platforms, regional legacy equipment and end-office switching equipment to reduce our power requirements. By right-sizing network assets, we lower our energy demands.
These teams manage AT&T’s network resource optimization, energy management efforts and direction, among other programs such as network capacity engineering and in-network operational support, as well as their associated budgets.
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, our 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 work with internal and external organizations to identify better ways to source energy, including through the incorporation of renewable and alternative energy into our portfolio.
In addition, our on-site generation of alternative and renewable electricity has a capacity of 45.3 MW (4.48 MW of solar installations, 40.80 MW of fuel cell power). These on-site power sources produce 292.4 million kWh annually, which is equivalent to the annual electricity use of nearly 24,000 homes. 3
The estimated energy production of our entire renewable energy portfolio (both on and off site) is more than 2.2 billion kWh annually, with nearly 300 million kWh coming from on-site sources, and more than 1.9 billion kWh from off-site solar and wind contracts currently in production.
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 2019, we invested more than $48.6 million to implement approximately 26,700 projects that amount to gross annualized savings of $39.8 million. Since 2010, we have implemented nearly 138,000 energy efficiency projects, resulting in annualized energy savings of nearly 7.2 billion kWh and cost savings of $661 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 2019, we continued integrating EBMS across our footprint, with deployment complete at approximately 800 facilities.
Using EBMS building data, weather data and interval utility meter data, AT&T introduced a program to optimize energy use at nearly 250 central offices. We tailored the building management system programming, ensured critical mechanical repairs were completed and implemented machine learning capabilities at our largest 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. Larger facilities realized nearly 12% total building energy savings and smaller facilities realized about a 3% total building energy savings. We are continuing to deploy EBMS and the central office optimization program in 2020.
We also undertake thousands of energy efficiency projects in our facilities 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, such as air-handler efficiency and controls upgrades, lighting retrofits, variable frequency drive (VFD) installations and replacement of entire systems, such as chillers. The more than 6,000 projects completed in 2019 will provide annualized savings of more than 165 million kWh and nearly $14 million. Benefits from projects to improve facility energy savings are typically realized in 2.5 years or less. Our 2019 projects will save an amount equivalent to providing electricity to nearly 13,500 homes for a year. 3
We also invest in our infrastructure to facilitate more sustainable studio operations. Warner Bros. built the ﬁrst “green” sound stage 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 2019, more than 20,000 projects focused on reducing network energy use generated annualized savings of nearly 306 million kWh and $24 million. Examples include:
- Network Architecture: In 2019, 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 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.
- 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. Leveraging our Open Network Automation Platform – together with industry-leading, patented machine learning–based analytics, we’re making 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, more than 300,000 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. Through the energy platform, employees and contractors across all organizations can also access a dashboard of 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 1,200 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.
We use an energy intensity metric to measure our electricity usage relative to our total traffic carried on both our terrestrial and satellite networks. This allows us to see the impact of our collective energy programs at a time when increasing network and service-delivery demands put pressure on electricity use. 2
We set a 2020 goal to reduce company electricity consumption 60% relative to data traffic on our network (our energy intensity) from our 2013 baseline of 233 MWh electricity/petabyte (PB) of network traffic. This equates to 93 MWh/PB, which we surpassed in 2018. As of end-of-year 2019, our energy intensity is 45.5 MWh/PB.
We surpassed our energy intensity goal ahead of schedule due to the introduction of DIRECTV satellite broadcast technology into our network. Satellite technology allows multiple AT&T customers to simultaneously receive high-definition – and even 4K – broadcasts without individually drawing bandwidth from our terrestrial network. Since achieving our goal, we continue to look for 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. 2 As of 2018, all disclosures of the energy intensity metric include both satellite and terrestrial traffic. AT&T total network traffic payload covers content/data carried on all AT&T global networks, including:
- 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