What 4th Graders Taught Me

Two weeks ago, I spent my day with a group of very intelligent 4th graders sharing with them the importance of water and its use in semiconductor manufacturing. If you are not aware, in short, we need ultrapure water to remove impurities from our silicon wafers.

But as I started talking with the students, it was quickly evident they knew that water is a critical and scarce resource. A few students even shared with me, on that ironically rainy day, how technology can help save water. Their enthusiasm was contagious and today, on World Water Day, if caused me to reflect on our progress at Intel and on what I can do at home to save more water too.

For decades, Intel has invested significant resources in water conservation, focusing on conserving water used in our operations, collaborating on water initiatives with our local communities, and working to create technology solutions. Since 1998, Intel has invested more than $237 million in water conservation projects at our global facilities. This investment has enabled us to return approximately 80% of our water withdrawals back to local communities, where it can be reused or returned to the water environment.

The remaining 20% balance has been the challenge. It is lost to evaporation, waste streams, and taken up by plants through irrigation. Last year, we announced an ambitious water goal to close the gap and restore 100% of our global water use by 2025 through collaborative community-based projects. In fact, we just released our first report sharing our progress to this goal and you can keep up with all of our ongoing projects here.

I’m proud of our commitment and progress especially because, according to UNESCO, by 2025, 1.8 billion people are expected to be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under water stress conditions. But after my interaction with the 4th graders and listening to their ideas, I have full confidence they will continue our efforts to find ways to address water scarcity. And as for me, to celebrate World Water Day, I’m committing to taking shorter showers! Intel has a strong plan to restore our water use but the amazing 4th graders I met reminded me, even as individuals, we can all do more.