Energy and Environment

Finding innovative solutions to protect our environment and natural resources.

Watch: Swimming with Plankton

Explore our projects

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


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.

Monitoring lake health with the IoT


Applying science and technology to protect Lake George

Since 2013, the collaboration between IBM, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and The FUND for Lake George has built the world’s most advanced environmental monitoring system. The system has a sensor network that gathers more than nine terabytes of physical and chemical data annually, computer models that depict the flow of water, nutrients and contaminants through the watershed and surveys aquatic animals that inhabit the lake and streams. The monitoring system also conducts ongoing experiments to test the impacts of human activities on the Lake George ecosystem.

The Jefferson Project at Lake George

Improving air quality


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.

Learn more

Interactive experience

Swimming with plankton


Swimming with Plankton

Swimming with plankton

IBM researchers are building small, autonomous microscopes that can be placed in bodies of water to monitor plankton in situ, identifying different species and tracking their movement in three dimensions. The findings can be used to better understand their behavior, such as how they respond to changes to their environment caused by everything from temperature to oil spills to run off. They could even be used to predict threats to our water supply, like red tides.

Watch video

Our oceans are dirty. AI-powered robot microscopes may save them.

Stopping methane leaks


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.

Learn more

Creating endlessly recyclable plastics


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.

Learn more

TED Talk

Commitment by the numbers


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


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


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

Discover what IBM is disrupting today