Energy and Environment

Finding innovative solutions to protect our environment and natural resources.

Watch: IBM's environmental commitment

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Environmental responsibility

IBM Research works with with organizations around the world to develop creative solutions that address what is arguably one of today's greatest challenges: protecting the environment and our natural resources. This work builds on an enduring responsibility ingrained in the IBM corporate policy and culture to prioritize innovation in this important area.

Environmental stewardship award

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IBM Research receives the Chairman’s Environmental Award

At IBM, commitment to environmental sustainability and corporate citizenship is one of our company’s strongest and most important traditions. Since 1991, IBM’s acting Chairman has given an environmental award to different IBM business units to further stimulate IBM's environmental stewardship. IBM Research is the winner of the 2017 Chairman’s Environmental Award. Recipients are selected based on the business unit’s leadership, initiative and results in contributing to IBM’s environmental policy objectives. This is the third time IBM Research has been recognized in the Award’s 25-year history.


Creating endlessly recyclable plastics

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recycled plastic powder in test tube

Breakthrough plastic stronger than bone, yet endlessly recyclable

IBM researchers invented a super-strong and fully degradable plastic that could make today's environmental curse tomorrow's sustainable answer. Think recyclable airplane parts, dissolvable water bottles and dramatically diminished landfills.

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TED Talk


Improving air quality

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Green Horizons

IBM Research - China, partnering with major global cities like Beijing, New Delhi, Johannesburg and others, is spearheading a global Green Horizons initiative to enable governments, utility companies and factories to better understand and improve their relationships with the environment and to help tackle pressing issues related to air pollution and climate change.

To help address the issue of air pollution – considered to be the greatest environmental threat to human health – IBM has developed next-generation pollution forecasting and management systems which draw on vast amounts of Big Data from environmental monitoring stations, weather stations, traffic cameras as well as meteorological and environmental satellites.

Today, there are 1,500 portable sensors and 35 large monitoring sensor stations placed around Beijing City. Green Horizons has been deployed in 367 additional cities in 12 districts across China.

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Interactive experience


Using AI to save water

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AI and IoT turn water into wine

At a vineyard outside Modesto, Calif., E&J Gallo Winery is testing a new irrigation system developed with IBM Research to grow grapes using less water. The system delivers water to specific sections of the vineyard, which are typically five or six vine rows wide, by about 20 to 25 vines long. Each water line is wrapped with sensors that wirelessly and continuously communicate environmental conditions and vine stress to a central computer. This hyper-localized information and real-time unstructured data, like satellite imagery and weather forecasts, is automatically processed. Then, the system provides recommended watering instructions.

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Watson case study

IBM macroscope research


Stopping methane leaks

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Detecting environmental pollution at the speed of light

IBM researchers have been developing and testing a cognitive methane measurement technology that consists of an intelligent network system and tiny silicon photonics sensing chips, that when combined with machine learning and advanced physical analytics can autonomously detect the origin and quantity of methane leaks. Methane is an important source of clean energy but managing unintended emissions will help reduce its environmental impact as well as increase the amount oil and gas producers can capture and put to market.

IBM is working with Southwestern Energy to explore and further test this intelligent methane monitoring system, as part of the ARPA-E Methane Observation Networks with Innovative Technology to Obtain Reductions (MONITOR) program.

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Reducing energy usage

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Reducing energy use

World energy consumption is predicted to grow by 48 percent between 2012 and 2040. Technology solutions only address half the problem of trying to conserve energy. Behavior change is just as important. As multi-family affordable housing is retrofitted for energy conservation, it is also fitted with sensors that allow us to examine behaviors of the building residents to guide and evaluate any interventions that may be undertaken to encourage conservation. As part of the Science for Social Good initiative, IBM researchers are teaming with the International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (ICAST) to build a solution for disseminating information about behaviors that reduce energy usage and measuring the impact of the intervention.

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Commitment by the numbers

40%

of renewable electricity in IBM’s total electricity supply in 2016.

86%

of IBM’s nonhazardous waste was sent to be recycled in 2016.

38%

reduction in CO2 emissions associated with IBM’s energy consumption (2012 to year-end 2016)

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