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AT&T Sees Opportunities to Cool Its Energy Costs with Help from Environmental Defense Fund's Climate Corps Program

Dallas, Texas, October 19, 2011

Bringing outside air in can pay big returns, according to a comprehensive new study of AT&T* facilities conducted by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) as part of the EDF Climate Corps program.  AT&T today revealed a potential savings of up to 50% associated with cooling costs at 250 AT&T facilities by using a technique called “economizer mode” – a process in which cool external air replaces the need for mechanically chilled air during cool months.

EDF Climate Corps places specially-trained students from leading business schools with host companies to build the business case for energy efficiency.  AT&T first participated in the program in 2010, identifying a potential 80% lighting savings over 100 million square feet of AT&T real estate.  To take advantage of potential savings, AT&T is in the process of installing lighting sensors at nearly 250 locations in 2011. (Click here for a video case study describing the 2010 project.)

“Energy efficiency is a big deal to AT&T: Each day, we connect more than 95 million wireless customers, and that requires a significant amount of power,” said John Schinter, executive director of energy, AT&T.  “Working with the EDF Climate Corps program, we’ve been able to identify tangible opportunities to help minimize our environmental impact and trim our costs as well.”   

EDF Climate Corps fellow Mike McCarthy, an MBA candidate at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, worked this summer at AT&T to evaluate economizer operations across AT&T facilities in the United States.  (Click here to watch McCarthy describe the research project.) Economizers balance external and internal airflows to properly pressure and cool buildings during cool months without the aid of energy-consuming mechanical chillers.  Collaborating with executive director Schinter, McCarthy devised a model built around key data points such as local weather data, electricity consumption and cooling costs at the top 1,000 energy-consuming AT&T facilities.  The research determined the company can potentially cut cooling costs in half through use of economizers in geographies where the weather is accommodating.  Through strategic investments to improve economizer use, AT&T can realize a return on its investment in as little as two years.

This summer’s EDF Climate Corps fellows identified energy efficiency opportunities that could collectively save $650 million in net operational costs over the project lifetimes across all host organizations.  As a testament to the program’s effectiveness, more than half of this summer’s host companies, including AT&T, were repeat participants.  Victoria Mills, managing director at EDF said, “EDF’s work with AT&T proves that there is a solid business case for energy efficiency. Any company can achieve real financial and environmental benefits by better controlling its energy demand.”

The EDF Climate Corps projects are part of a series of energy efficiency efforts by AT&T.  In 2010 alone, AT&T realized $44 million in annualized energy savings as a result of implementing 4,200 energy efficiency projects like these.  Additionally, the company cut the intensity of its energy use by more than 16 percent, compared to 2009.  An important component of accomplishing this has been the implementation an Energy Scorecard at the top 500 energy consuming facilities, which creates visibility of a building’s energy performance and holds AT&T real estate managers accountable for the actions taken to increase efficiency.  All of these real estate managers are ENERGY STAR trained.

Find more information on AT&T and the EDF Climate Corps program at www.edfclimatecorps.org.

AT&T is committed to integrating sustainable business practices across its business and was recently added to Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s 12th Annual 100 Best Corporate Citizens List. AT&T was also included in the 2011 Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index (DJSI). Visit www.att.com/csr to learn more about sustainability at AT&T. Also visit www.att.com/csr to download the 2010 AT&T Sustainability Report.