Three-Pronged Approach to Managing Energy Resources
By: John Schinter, Executive Director, Corporate Energy
Last year was the hottest year on record for the contiguous United States. This heat, coupled with a struggling economy, had consumers doing all they could to find ways to save money on energy. As Executive Director of Corporate Energy, I can say that this is not confined to households. Businesses are acting as well.
Energy management is complex and can touch several business units throughout an organization. Taking this into account, we implemented a three-pronged approach to address our energy management: company-wide energy efficiency, collaboration and alternative energy. Our efforts have yielded great results; from 2010 - 2012, we completed over 14,300 energy projects that generated over $151 million in annualized energy savings.
Company-wide energy efficiency: At the heart of our energy management program is the Energy Scorecard. It operates on two basic principles: visibility and accountability. Fed by data from a centralized database, the Scorecard calculates easy-to-understand "grades" at our top 2,000 administrative, technical and retail facilities based on energy consumption and energy efficiency potential. The system has promoted shared-learning and allowed us to capture baseline numbers to help set goals and track progress.
Collaboration and partnerships: Collaboration allows us to expand our knowledge of best practices, which is critical for our continued success. Also, we are able to share experiences with others so that greater energy efficiency can be realized on a broad scale.
- Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) - We are participating in RMI's Portfolio Energy RetroFit Challenge to investigate and implement deep energy conservation measures across our office building portfolio.
- Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps - In our Chicago and Dallas offices this past summer, MBA student interns evaluated Building Management Systems to improve energy performance and continue our ongoing efforts to drive water and energy efficiency in the facility cooling process. This was our third year to participate in the program and we look forward to continuing our work together.
- City of Chicago's Retrofit Chicago's Commercial Buildings Initiative - We are collaborating with the city to reduce energy use at our downtown Chicago facility.
Alternative energy: A second wave of onsite Bloom fuel cell installations at facilities in California has been our most successful alternative energy initiative in terms of scalability and return-on-investment. Once fully operational, these fuel cells, which generate clean, reliable, affordable onsite power that reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 50 percent compared to the grid and virtually eliminates all SOx and NOx emissions, will produce 149 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy annually-enough to power approximately 13,680 homes per year. We have also found success by combining financial incentives with funding mechanisms such as Power Purchase Agreements (PPA). In areas with high electricity rates and volatility, the combination of incentives and PPAs has created cost structures that are more than competitive while allowing the generation of electricity with lower environmental impacts.
At the end of the day, decisions and investments are made while keeping a close eye on the bottom line. If we can make the case that we're saving the company money, now or in the future, the business case is much more compelling. Moving forward, we at AT&T will continue to pursue increased energy efficiency projects and deployments of alternative forms of energy when the business case is viable. To this point we have been encouraged by the fact that our energy-saving initiatives not only impact our bottom line, they also help us create a more efficient and cleaner energy future.