By Steve Ryan
A premier communications holding company, AT&T has a longstanding commitment to sustainability—placing 35th out of top 500 U.S. companies in Newsweek’s 2011 Green Rankings and being named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index three years in a row. Still, like many corporations where sustainability is a core value, AT&T is always looking for additional efficiency and savings opportunities.
The Computer Power Management Opportunity
One such opportunity is plug load savings through computer power management. On average, plug load energy accounts for 30 to 35% of a commercial building’s electricity load1 and computers can account for close to 70% of that plug load.2 In many office settings computers are left on 24/7 to accommodate night-time updates (e.g., Windows updates, virus protection). By setting computers to enter low-power modes automatically when inactive, companies can save up to $50 per computer annually
By setting AT&T’s 166,000 retail and non-retail computers to power down at night, the company saves 42 million kWh annually. These computers power down in the evenings at specific times, but only if the systems are inactive, ensuring that data isn’t lost. The annual energy saved is equivalent to:
- Almost $4 million dollars saved.
- Electricity use of over 3,200 U.S. homes.
- Reduction of 29 million metric tons of C02 emissions.
For these large-scale efforts, the AT&T Energy Team—a team under the direction of the Senior Energy Director whose sole focus is energy management—was named an ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT Champion in 2012 (see ENERGY STAR recognition piece directly below this paragraph). One of the keys to their implementation was upper management support bringing together the IT and Corporate Real Estate departments. AT&T worked across business units to create the business case to implement a third-party tool to activate its power management settings. However, there are many ways to power manage your computers quickly and easily across your entire network (see box above, to the right).
Next for AT&T
With guidance from ENERGY STAR and other programs, AT&T will continue energy management efforts across its portfolio. For instance, AT&T is in the process of deploying its Energy Scorecard at its top 500 energy consuming retail stores. The Energy Scorecard has already been deployed in AT&T’s top 1,000 energy consuming facilities. With its promotion of transparency and accountability, AT&T realized $86 million in energy savings from efficiency projects deployed in 2010 and 2011.
Ryan works for the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. The ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT Campaign is a nationwide effort to assist and recognize organizations for reducing the energy consumed by their information technology equipment.