India – Raising the Environmental Bar

Wasn’t the headline you were expecting was it? Was the farthest thing from my mind as well as I set out on a week and a half in Asia. I typically go to Asia a couple of times a year to visit our manufacturing operations and meet with colleagues and government officials. In my 13 years at Intel, I had never visited our India operations, largely because it is a series of office buildings and there is not much to do from an environmental standpoint, or so I thought.

The vast majority of Intel’s India workforce is located in Bangalore, a growing high-tech city with many environmental challenges common in developing countries and regions. So what I found at our Bangalore offices surprised me. All water and sewage from the site is treated and reused for irrigating the landscape around the site. Rainwater is collected during the wet seasons and used during dryer seasons for landscaping. In total ~95% of sites landscape irrigation needs are met with reuse water from the site itself. Likewise nothing goes to waste. All solid wastes at the sites are recycled, far surpassing our overall corporate wide recycling rate of 87%. An active energy efficiency campaign is under way with projects implemented that save tens of thousands of kW-hrs each year. A LEED assessment has been completed and an e-waste collection event kicked off on Earth Day. Nearly 80% of the employees volunteer in the community with a growing number of volunteer projects focused on the environment.

OK, I have to admit that I was aware of some of this activity and had met with several of our CSR and EHS leaders in India to discuss ideas and facilitate projects. However, I was not prepared for the full range of activities and the vigor or excitement that I met when discussing environmental topics. I left India with ideas for many of our other office buildings around the globe, far too often at the bottom of the environmental priority list due to their small contribution to our overall footprint. Well done Intel India – you’ve raised the environmental bar!

2 Responses to India – Raising the Environmental Bar

  1. Lord Volton says:

    Has Intel considered user solar panels to power some of these sites? I’ve read in the past that a major problem with building a fab in India revolves around water and electricity issues.
    If the site is self powered that would eliminate electricity as a barrier. Also, with the work that Applied Materials is doing in the solar space (who presumably already works with Intel) it seems like setting up self-powered fabs wouldn’t be too hard.
    Also, given the economic costs of a power outage such as occurred with Samsung last year, the cost savings could be enormous if even one power outage is avoided.
    Are you talking with Intel brass about this?

  2. todd says:

    Yes. We have evaluated the use of solar panels and continue to do so. Typically, the challenge is cost. Although solar technology has made tremendous gains, for Intel’s facilities, installation of solar panels does not have a positive ROI. Power outages and associated business risks are a concern that we plan for and factor into the decision making. However, these risks are more economically managed today using solutions such as back-up diesel generators.
    With this said, we have not given up on solar and are actively looking at a wide variety of solar technologies and options. Stay tuned…