A Water Policy?

This week Intel formally published a company water policy and I’m proud of the result. A water policy? You read it correctly – a water policy. Let me explain.

Like most manufacturing processes, water is a key requirement for making semiconductors. Tap water is piped into the facility, contaminants (minerals, ions, etc) are removed from the water and the resulting ultra-pure water is used to rinse the surface of silicon wafers as they go through the semiconductor manufacturing process. Over the years, we’ve continued to improve the process so that today it takes less than 10 gal of water to make a state of the art microprocessor that powers your PC, less water than most people use in the shower each morning. Not bad, but there is room for improvement.

At Intel we have focused our efforts over the past decade to continuously improve our water efficiency, investing over $100 million which today results in savings of ~3 billion gallons of water each year. So, you’ve got the internal commitment and results, why a water policy? We debated the same question internally. We recognized the changing landscape and rising expectations for companies on this topic – from organizations looking at water as being a human right, to demands from investors for improved reporting and transparency on water use. In the end, after much discussion both internally and externally, including discussions with the socially responsible investment firm NorthStar Asset Management, we concluded that formally establishing a policy that documents our current practices and acknowledges the importance of water as a natural resource would help guide our future decision making, formalize our commitment and perhaps in a small way help raise the recognition of water as a valuable resource. In short, it was simply the smart and the right thing to do.

waterdemo.jpgTo learn more about our water conservation practices, see our most recent Corporate Responsibility Report and online water demo.

Todd Brady

About Todd Brady

Todd Brady is the Global Sustainability Director for Intel Corporation. In this role, he directs Intel’s global sustainability initiatives and strategies by leading corporate-wide environmental programs such as climate, energy and water conservation, waste minimization, sustainability and smart and green design. Since joining Intel in 1995, Todd has led a wide range of environmental initiatives within the company, ranging from key public regulatory and policy engagements to establishing Intel’s product stewardship strategies and design for environment programs at semiconductor manufacturing sites. During his 20 years at Intel, Todd has represented the company publicly and led industry-wide initiatives in many national and international environmental committees. He has authored more than 20 papers in scientific journals and conference proceedings on a variety of environmental topics. In 2009, he was named by Scientific American as one of ten outstanding leaders involved in research, business or policy pursuits that have advanced science and technology. Todd holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and a MS in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

3 Responses to A Water Policy?

  1. Thanks, Todd – that’s great to hear. I think your last point about raising the recognition of water is critical. For those of us in the CSR field, we know water is a top three issue for the coming decades (along with climate change and maybe social justice). For “the masses,” I think few have any idea what we’re in for, or just how much water is involved in their everyday lives in almost everything they consume.

  2. Anna Cummins says:

    Todd,
    We’d love to communicate with you directly to introduce 5 Gyres, the first comprehensive study of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans: http://5gyres.org. We’re interested in sharing the project with Intel. Feel free to email me directly. Best, Anna