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Wayne Balta, Vice President, Environmental Affairs and Product Safety, IBM

Wayne Balta, Vice President, Environmental Affairs and Product Safety, IBM

By Wayne Balta

Creating a smarter planet means taking steps toward a more sustainable planet.

The EPA’s ENERGY STAR® program has been working toward this vision for years. These days, most people recognize the ENERGY STAR seal as a trusted sign of energy efficiency from seeing it on everything from light bulbs to refrigerators. But IBM’s involvement with ENERGY STAR goes all the way back to 1992 when we became a charter member of the ENERGY STAR Computer Program. Back then it was focused on personal computers. Today, however, in an era of the global internet, Big Data and analytics, ENERGY STAR is also addressing computer servers and data centers. Continue Reading »

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Andrew Hoffman, University of Michigan, Director, Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise

By Andrew Hoffman and Terry F. Yosie

The students of today are the business leaders of tomorrow. It’s important for them to understand how to solve the big, vexing problems that impact the quality of life for current and future generations.  

With that in mind, the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, together with the World Environment Center, have announced a partnership to get graduate students involved in planning and implementing sustainable development initiatives while working with leading global companies.

The program, which will be called the Erb/WEC Fellowships, will be supported by IBM as part of the company’s long-term commitment to environmental sustainability and developing next-generation skills for the 21st century workforce. IBM was recently recognized for the second consecutive year as the greenest company in the U.S., according to the Newsweek 2012 Green Rankings survey, and the company is working with WEC and other companies to solve major sustainability challenges.

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By Harry van Dorenmalen
Chairman, IBM Europe

Recently, IBM detailed two new computers that will help change the way the world, literally, works.

The first, Sequoia, is the world’s most powerful supercomputer, capable of calculating in one hour what would otherwise take 6.7 billion people using hand calculators 320 years to complete if they worked non-stop. It is installed at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

The second is the first commercial machine, cooled by hot water, built for the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre in Germany. It will be used by scientists across Europe to drive a wide range of research ­­− from simulating the blood flow behind an artificial heart valve, to devising quieter aeroplanes.

What’s impressive about these machines is not just their massive processing power alone, but  they are remarkably energy efficient, too.

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September 10th, 2011

Most people that have been in a start-up or launched a new product line have probably read Geoffrey Moore‘s  ‘Crossing the Chasm.’

The ‘chasm’ is defined as the gap between what it takes for early adopters to adopt a new technology versus what it takes for the early majority to buy into it.  Moore believes visionaries and pragmatists have very different expectations, and he attempts to explore those differences and suggest techniques to successfully cross the “chasm.”

A similar ‘chasm’  exists in the area of sustainability for companies trying to transition from early adopter (stick your toe in the water) projects to successfully planning, executing and achieving sustainability goals.   A recent study by TRIRIGA, a recent IBM Smarter Buildings acquisition, finds that although 92 percent of the world’s largest corporations and government agencies have set environmental and energy reduction goals, two–thirds failed to achieve them.  While a majority of organizations have yet to achieve their goals, one-third demonstrate that it is possible. What did these organizations do to cross that chasm?

TRIRIGA evaluated survey data from 130 sustainability–focused executives and professionals, all from companies and agencies with revenues or operating budget greater than $1 billion, and found that  75 percent of organizations that achieved their environmental and energy management goals invested in three clear activities:

·    91% improve facility energy efficiency,
·    77% improve equipment servicing and maintenance, and
·    75% improve space utilization (i.e. space optimization)

This serves as a great indicator where to begin and how to prioritize activities.   But there are other factors to be considered.

trirega blog survey

A sustainability program, like most strategic initiatives, is much more likely to succeed with strong executive management support from its first stages and with specific resources dedicated to its implementation.  Involving executive management in all stages of the strategy with regular reviews and celebration of milestones is key to crossing this ‘chasm.’

Establishing sustainability as a top priority within real estate and facilities is  fundamental to success. Real estate and facility assets consume more than 77 percent of electricity and consume 49 percent of total energy according to the US Energy Information Administration.  They are also responsible for approximately 48 percent of global carbon emissions and research identifies that buildings have the highest growth in CO2 emissions since 1960. Research from McKinsey also finds that they provide the greatest opportunity for reduction at the lowest cost – they are the low-hanging fruit of sustainability. Based on these staggering statistics, there was little surprise that companies crossing this chasm placed a high priority on sustainability within real estate and facilities.

To learn more about the strategies and tactics used by leading organizations to achieve their sustainability goals,  join our webcast “Crossing the Sustainability Chasm” on Wednesday, September 14th at 10:00AM PST  which will include the following content:

·    Best practice examples on achieving energy management & environmental goals
·    How IBM achieved more than $29 million in energy cost savings in 2010

Click to register: and you can also look for the webcast replay option following the event.

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There’s no shortage of contests for tech startups in this world, but IBM’s SmartCamp is different. The focus is on companies that aim to make the world work better, and is aligned with our Smarter Planet agenda. We launched the program last year in Dublin and conducted regional contests this spring and summer in Stockholm, Boston, Tel Aviv, London, and Silicon Valley. (This video tells the Silicon Valley story.) There are still two contests left, in Paris on Sept. 24 and Copenhagen on Oct. 7, before the finals in Dublin on Nov. 16. So there’s time for entrepreneurs to get involved. Check it out at

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Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Dave Turek, vice president, IBM Deep Computing. IBM is well known for dominating the Top500 lists of supercomputers. Less well known is the Green500 List, which ranks supercomputers not only on feeds and speeds, but energy consumption. This year, IBM dominated that list with 17 out of the top 20 machines on the list. This blog post highlights the significance of this achievement for Smarter Planet.

Energy efficiency is quickly becoming one of the most important metrics of supercomputing value. Just a few short years ago high performance computing (HPC) clients were concerned primarily with performance, and the cost of performance. The conversation has shifted dramatically. HPC clients are now equally concerned about power consumption and cooling requirements. For good reason, the cost to power an HPC environment today is nearly as much as the hardware.

Fifty percent of the energy consumed in today’s average data center goes toward cooling the systems and preventing overheating. Overheating, in turn, leads to reduced reliability. In fact, Wu-Chun Feng of Virginia Tech, one of the founders of the Green500 List of energy-efficient supercomputers believes that for every 10 degree Celsius increase in temperature the system failure rate doubles.

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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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