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Citi Cuts Carbon Relative to 2005 Levels for First Time

Citi reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to 2005 levels for the first time in 2010, and the company says it is on track to meet its 2011 carbon reduction target, according to Citi’s 2010 corporate citizenship report.

The bank’s 2010 emissions were down 4.8 percent on its 2005 baseline of 1,198,195, just shy of its five percent goal for 2010. That follows a 2009 performance that saw carbon slightly up on the baseline, and previous years of dramatic increases versus the baseline.

The company now says it is on track to meet a goal of a 10 percent reduction, relative to 2005, by the end of 2011.

Last year Citi purchased a total of 223 GWH of green electricity in seven countries. In the U.S. it is ranked 21st among Fortune 500 companies in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership, reporting that five percent of its U.S. electricity comes from renewable energy.

In the report, Citi also announced that it improved its energy efficiency by 6.4 percent in 2010.

Much of the company’s energy savings last year came from changes in IT. “Our data centers — buildings that house computer servers, data storage and network infrastructure — are our factory floor,” the report said. “They account for less than two percent of our real estate but more than 20 percent of our energy consumption.”

In 2010 the company reduced its number of data centers from 27 to 22 by closing older sites and moving their functions into newer, more energy efficient buildings. Citi’s number of data centers has been steadily dropping from 51 in 2005.

Citi says that last year it became the world’s first company to re-introduce water-cooled (rather than air-cooled) mainframe computers. Water is a more effective coolant than air, Citi says, and the water-cooled mainframes use 14 percent less energy than their air-cooled counterparts.

Last year Citi also implemented a data storage system called “thin provisioning”, which reduces the floor space used by IT equipment. This helped to  improve data storage efficiency from 39 percent in early 2009 to 61 percent in the third quarter of 2010, Citi says.

Another data initiative saw Citi change traditional server access connectivity to network switches, reducing copper wiring by as much as 80 percent. Fewer cables allowed air to flow more freely around equipment, further reducing energy consumption. Citi predicts that this change will save at least one megawatt of power, by the third quarter of this year, out of the tens of megawatts used by the company’s servers, mainframes, storage and network.

Correction: This article and headline have been ammended to clarify that in 2010, Citi made its first cut in greenhouse gas emissions relative to 2005 levels – but this was not its first year-on-year carbon cut since 2005. A Citi spokesman said the company reduced its emissions year-on-year for the past three years.

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