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Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Wayne Balta, vice president, environmental affairs and product safety at IBM. It emphasizes that sustainability is not a new concept for IBM, nor is it a short-term commitment. Sustainability is woven into the fabric of IBM’s business.

IBM shows its commitment to sustainability through the Green 500

IBM just issued its 20th environmental report–an annual tradition that began in 1990, long before most companies climbed on the “green” bandwagon or became transparent about their environmental activities.   In addition to climate change and energy efficiency, IBM reports on pollution prevention, waste management, material selection and water stewardship to capture the full scope of its environmental impact.

In 2009, IBM’s energy conservation projects across the company delivered savings equal to 5.4 percent of our total energy use (exceeding our goal of 3.5%). These conservation projects also saved almost $27 million in energy expense.

From the way IBM runs its business, to the products and solutions we sell, to the way we manage our supplier relationships, IBM uses its expertise, global reach, innovation and technology in our commitment to protect the environment.  Sustainability is systemic to IBM’s business along with technology and services that promote the company’s vision for a smarter planet.

The company looks to design energy-efficient offerings to help provide clients with products that protect the environment. Consider data centers. Toyota Motor’s 20, 000 square foot data in California uses a high-tech system of sensors developed by IBM to detect wasted energy on the manufacturing floor. The sensors deliver a color-coded 3D view of where heat is being produced.  This same system helped IBM cut its 2009 energy consumption and has saved nearly 350,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions for clients.

IBM is partnering with companies around the world on thermal management, virtualization, consolidation, software, and even construction to improve data center energy efficiency. And the Green500 just put out its 2010 list of the most energy efficient supercomputers; IBM dominates the list with 17 of the top 20.

Our sustainability also stretches to the realm of patents. The Eco-Patent Commons creates a free exchange of intellectual property to solve environmental challenges. Since the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and IBM launched the Eco-Patent Commons in 2008, 12 companies have joined the effort, contributing more than 100 patents to protect the environment, and we strongly encourage other companies to contribute.

For some companies, corporate responsibility is merely an adjunct; a set of activities disconnected from the core business. At IBM, the company’s strategic business priorities are tightly aligned with our social responsibility efforts. This shared ambition is to enable the systems that make life on this planet more efficient, accessible and sustainable.

Wayne Balta is vice president, environmental affairs and product safety, IBM

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