Top Ten Sustainability Initiatives of AT&T

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AT&T is a well known American multinational telecommunications corporation and second largest mobile telephony and fixed telephony provider in the United States. Its headquarters are in Dallas, Texas and it is the largest non-oil related company in the state as well as the largest headquarters. Forbes magazine, in 2011, listed AT&T as the fourteenth largest company around the globe based on market value. AT&T continues to remain committed to operating in such a way that will increase their overall efficiency as well as minimize their environmental impact both on today as well as the future. As such, AT&T has been working on a number of initiatives to aid in their sustainability goals, including utilizing alternative-fuel vehicles and waste reduction. Here are just a few of the examples of what AT&T has been up to.

1 ) Engaging Employees. AT&T is always looking to engage their employees to increase sustainability efforts. The objective is to communicate with all employees regularly and involve them in the ongoing campaign to increase sustainability and environmental stewardship throughout all of AT&T’s facilities and operations. For example, there is the Champions of the Environment program to honor AT&T employees and teams who make noteworthy environmental contributions to their respected communities. The winners receive a donation worth $1,000 to the nonprofit environmental organization of their choosing.

2 ) Managing Energy and Improving Efficiency. AT&T believes in responsible environmental efficiency improvements and management in an effort to conserve all natural resources. For example, AT&T has created an Energy Scorecard utilized to benchmark all energy performance levels at 500 of the largest and most energy consuming facilities around the globe in 2010. The scorecard looks to track all instances of energy management and then utilize the information to set energy efficiency goals.

3 ) Network Initiatives. Throughout the 2010 calendar year, AT&T created a number of initiatives that were aimed at improving the network energy use. For example, to reduce energy consumption as well as site maintenance, AT&T replaced tower light controllers as well as incandescent bulbs with LED lights in 1,100 sites. By 2012, the goal is to have over 3,000 locations done. As well, when it comes to equipment use, AT&T is always looking to reuse, recycle, reconfigure, rearrange, retire, and redeploy old network equipment.

4 ) Data Initiatives. The data centers house communication and information technology equipment and systems. The data centers at AT&T are like the “nervous centers” for all networks. Because of all the equipment, certain humidity and temperature levels need to be maintained. This includes things like computational fluid dynamics software, uninterruptable power systems, and air flow management at our enterprise data centers.

5 ) Facility Initiatives. AT&T owns over 64,000 properties in over 60 countries around the globe. Because of the vastness of AT&T’s real estate holdings, AT&T realizes the impact the buildings have on energy consumption as well as carbon dioxide emissions. As a result, a number of initiatives have been created in AT&T facilities across the globe. This includes the Facility Audit Program started in 2007 to aid buildings in getting necessary upgrades that would improve energy efficiency, including lighting and HVAC systems. Since the beginning of all facility initiatives, AT&T has seen 443 million kilowatt-hours of annual energy savings in 2010, removing 306,113 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

6 ) Transportation Initiatives. AT&T currently owns one of the largest commercial fleets in the United States with more than 73,000 vehicles. As such, AT&T has been investing in alternative fuel technologies to find cleaner and more efficient ways to power their fleet. In 2009, for example, AT&T made a commitment to invest $565 million toward the deployment of 15,000 alternative fueled vehicles by the year 2015. As well, all commercial vehicles are efficiently managed to ensure a reduction in fuel consumption and fewer miles driven, including avoidance of busy roads and avoiding hard breaking and fast acceleration as it utilizes more fuel.

7 ) Industry and Government Collaboration. AT&T has been extremely involved in a number of industry efforts to promote as well as advance solutions for energy efficiency. For example, AT&T works with The Green Grid, which is a global consortium committed to advancements in energy efficiency throughout business computer ecosystems and data centers. AT&T also helped to establish and serves as a chair for the Alliance for Telecommunication Industry Solutions committee, which has helped to develop a new methodology to measure and report energy efficiency regarding telecommunications equipment.

8 ) Alternative Energy. AT&T has been using a lot of alternative energy sources, including solar and wind. To date, AT&T has three solar energy systems in the United States, with the latest one installed in 2010 at a data center in San Diego, California, which produces 444,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. When it comes to wind energy, AT&T has a partnership with Austin Energy’s GreenChoice renewable energy program to purchase wind power to fuel ten percent of electricity consumption at AT&T facilities located in the city of Austin, Texas.

9 ) Waste Management. AT&T is always looking to minimize waste. For example, AT&T remains dedicated to reducing the amount of e-waste generated. In 2010, AT&T collected over 95,000 computers, servers, and monitors for recycling, reuse, and donation. AT&T also has a strong relationship with Xerox Corporation to do a review of all printing devices in AT&T office buildings. With Xerox Corporation, AT&T was able to remove over 19,000 devices from almost 3,000 locations, reducing energy use by more than 35 percent.

10 ) Product Stewardship. Since 2010, AT&T has been able to collect over three million cell phones that were either reused or recycled. As well, over 1.5 million pounds of used batteries and cell phone accessories also went to AT&T to be either reused or recycled. AT&T offers a number of ways to recycle old phones, including drop-off bins at all retail locations and prepaid mailing envelopes both at retail locations and online. In 2011, AT&T created a device buy-back program to provide another way to recycle phones. AT&T also provides paperless mailing and billing practices. Since its creation, more than two million customers receive only electronic bills and statements, allowing the company to save over 55 million sheets a month.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He is also author of The 2012 Cleantech Directory. He can be reached at shawn@watershedcapital.com.

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Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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