Last year, IBM launched a consulting practice, called "Green Sigma," based on taking sensor data and analysis software and applying them toward reducing an enterprise's overall carbon footprint and energy and water use.

On Tuesday, it announced an industry partnership that pretty much brings every major energy services company out there – as well as new energy efficiency entrant Cisco Systems – into the fold.

The coalition's charter members – Johnson Controls, Honeywell, ABB, Eaton, ESS, Siemens and Schneider Electric, along with Cisco – plan to make their equipment and services work with IBM's Green Sigma offering, which is aimed at using sensors and controls to fine-tune corporate energy use.

IBM has been working with a number of these companies on integrating energy management for some time, noted Rich Lechner, IBM's vice president of energy and environment.

The new coalition adds carbon emissions and water usage to that list, with the additional goal of putting it all in a framework that lets executives track it in as close to real time as possible, he said.

That's something IBM has said is important if corporations want to move beyond just reporting data to regulators and actually use it to change the way they do business to save money and energy (see Corporate Social, Environmental Efforts Need More Data, IBM Says).

It's all of a piece with various green initiatives the computing giant is undertaking. Those include a partnership with Omron Corp. to link the Japanese sensor maker's data with IBM's logistics planning software to cut fuel use and carbon emissions, as well as procurement consulting services to help companies reduce the carbon footprint of their products and materials (see Traffic Sensors to Catch Carbon Emissions and IBM to Focus Supply Chain Heft on Green).

IBM is also working with Cisco on Cisco's EnergyWise, a system the networking giant is developing to manage phones, computers and building energy management systems (see Cisco Jumps Into Energy Management for Computers, Buildings).

As part of Tuesday's announcement, IBM said its Tivoli software for monitoring IT equipment can now serve as a portal for managing devices powered over Ethernet cables, such as Internet protocol (IP) phones and wireless access points.

Cisco has said it plans to first offer management of those devices, then move on to computers and other IT equipment through partners such as startup Verdiem, and finally tackle building systems like lights and HVAC equipment, with partners that include Schneider Electric and others.

Cisco will still offer a management portal through its IOS software for Cisco EnergyWise customers that don't use Tivoli, a Cisco public relations representative said in an email.