AT&T: With energy efficiency, little things mean a lot

In 2010, the telecommunications giant saved $44 million through almost 4,200 different projects focused on cutting power consumption.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Note to those of you looking for the mega-savings from your green business initiatives. You'll get there, but it will take a lot of smaller projects to make an appreciable dent on the bottom line. A perfect example is AT&T: Last year, the giant telecommunications carrier figures it saved $44 million from energy efficiency and power consumption management efforts. But it took more than 4,200 different projects to get there. Plus a serious employee training effort, and the development of an energy "scorecard" that is used to grade the energy policies at the company's top 500 energy-consuming facilities.

Says John Schinter, AT&T's director of energy:

"The rollout of the energy scorecard and training program were key factors which enabled AT&T to achieve these significant energy savings. We provided our employees with the needed tracking tools, training and incentives for them to be successful in their tremendous efforts to reduce AT&T'S energy use and realize significant cost savings."

Ah, the "i" word: "incentive." So, one clear way that AT&T made these efforts successful was by making its corporate real estate managers accountable. The company has actually created an energy intensity metric that is based on kilowatt-hours per terabyte of data that is carried on their network. So, for example, in 2009, the company decreased its energy intensity by 23.8 percent to 498 kilowatt-hours per terabyte of data carried. The goal for 2010 was another 15 percent reduction. In a press release discussing its energy management efforts, the company doesn't explicitly say whether or not it reached that goal.

Here are some examples of the power management initiatives during 2010 that got AT&T up to that $44 million savings number:

  • Replacing the bulbs and light controllers at more than 1,100 cell sites with LEDs
  • Eliminating switches at 11 central offices, which cut power consumption by 300,000 kilowatt hours
  • Deploying power management software on 169,000, which saves an estimated $614,000 annually

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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