Trend: In a high-energy cost era, green factories can cost less to build and maintain than traditional factories.
In a column titled A Green Dream in Texas, Thomas L. Friedman describes how Texas Instruments built a factory to be very efficient by applying green principles (excerpts below).
Link: The NY Times
The most impressive project I’ve seen is by Texas Instruments, which is building a “green” chip factory here in Richardson, near Dallas. T.I. is keeping 1,000 high-tech jobs in Texas by building its newest facility – to make wafers used in semiconductors – in a cost-saving, hyper-efficient green manner.
T.I. always wanted to keep its newest wafer factory near Dallas so it would be near its design center and ideas could flow back and forth. But China, Taiwan and Singapore were all tempting alternatives, offering low wages, subsidies and tax breaks. So the T.I. leadership laid down a challenge: T.I. could locate its new wafer factory in Richardson, if the T.I. design team and community leaders could find a way to build it for $180 million less than its last Dallas factory, erected in the late 1990’s. That would make its cost-per-wafer competitive with any overseas plant’s.
Although the T.I. engineers initially thought it impossible, they pulled it off. Previous chip factories had three floors because of the complicated cooling and manufacturing process involved in making wafers. The T.I. design team came up with a way to build the Richardson factory with just two floors – a huge savings in mass and energy. T.I. also contacted Amory Lovins, the green designer who heads the Rocky Mountain Institute, and asked him to help it design other parts of the plant in a way that would lower its resource consumption, which, over the life of a plant, can exceed construction outlays.
Together, T.I. engineers and Mr. Lovins’s team designed big water pipes with fewer elbows, which reduced friction loss and let them use smaller pumps that save energy. Various passive solar innovations were built in, including roofs that use a white reflective coating to reduce heat. These, together with innovations in how air is circulated, cooled and recovered naturally, reduced total heat so much that T.I. was able to get rid of one huge industrial air-conditioner. Almost all of the waste from the building construction is being recycled. The urinals are all waterless.