As IBM helps customers align sustainability goals with business objectives, we also leverage technology to achieve our own sustainability goals. Currently, IBM has a set of environmental commitments, including achieving Net Zero GHG Emissions by 2030 and diverting 90% of nonhazardous waste (by weight) from landfill and incineration by 2025. And IBM Global Real Estate (GRE) plays a critical role in meeting these targets.

Roughly 40% of the global share of annual carbon dioxide emissions comes from buildings. The UN Environment Program states that if nothing is done, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from buildings will more than double in the next 20 years.

To meet targets for GHG emissions, buildings and cities must shift from being part of the problem to being part of the solution. A survey from IBM and Morning Consult found that in the next two years, 62% of business leaders plan to invest in solutions that help manage assets, facilities and infrastructure to drive clean energy transition, efficient waste management and decarbonization.

Clients are looking for mature, real-world solutions that can shorten their path to sustainability, while helping improve the efficiency and performance of their operations. In this context, IBM GRE is leading a far-reaching transformation of nearly every facet of IBM’s real estate and asset management practices that demonstrates how to turn sustainability ambition into action.

Using IBM’s technology and expertise to capture data

Like other corporations, IBM is on a journey to not only reduce its GHG emissions, water consumption and waste, but also to track, analyze and report its progress toward carbon reduction goals.

For IBM, everything starts with data, so our first step was to implement solutions that capture the right data and embed the sustainability and environmental impacts of our day-to-day decisions into our operations. Two integral tools that help IBM manage its real estate operations more effectively are the IBM TRIRIGA® solution for facilities management and the IBM Maximo® solution for asset management.

Charged with the sustainable management of over 50 million square feet of space under management, across some 800 locations in 100 countries, IBM GRE had a large potential to deliver change—and a large challenge. So IBM worked with process experts from IBM Consulting to create a plan for extracting and capturing sustainability and operational data automatically and in real time to enable better decision making.

Our journey toward actionable insights

Once the plan was set, we focused on building a consistent base of data, a “single source of truth” for all underlying facilities and assets. That consideration led to two major developments to help put this foundation in place.

The first development was a close collaboration with the IBM Chief Data Office to build a new data governance program that aligns with IBM’s enterprise data standards and emphasizes data ownership. The second step was GRE’s decision to use sustainability performance management software from Envizi (now an IBM company) to help consolidate sustainability data (including key elements from TRIRIGA and Maximo) into a single, auditable system of record.

The Envizi solution was selected based on its automation capabilities, its ease of integration with core systems like TRIRIGA and Maximo, and its ability to deliver dashboard-based insights that inform business strategy.

Embedding insights into everyday operating decisions

A consistent data baseline allowed us to embed insights into everyday operating decisions. For example, using Maximo for data center maintenance, GRE analyzes sensor data to detect and fix problems before scheduled maintenance would find them. This eliminates the extra energy consumption, waste and emissions that invisibly failing parts would cause. Maximo also enables technicians to skip unnecessary repairs and avoid incidental carbon impacts like travel and parts shipping.

This transformation is already paying off

As GRE’s transformation continues to unfold, it’s already achieving results. In 2021, IBM registered a 61.6% emission reduction against base year 2010, placing the company on track to meet its goal of a 65% reduction by 2025 (adjusted for acquisitions and divestitures). And with its recent investments, IBM is also improving its reporting capabilities. Replacing third-party tools with IBM’s Envizi ESG Suite has enabled a roughly 30% reduction in reporting costs.

Building a more sustainable organization requires strong partnerships and shared vision. At IBM, we lead by example and work with clients to turn that vision into a reality. IBM Global Real Estate is proving how it is done.

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