GlobalFoundries spearheads sustainable chipmaking
Dan Steele shares GlobalFoundries’ holistic approach to environmental efficiency with long-term vision for sustainable semiconductor manufacturing.
In an industry closely scrutinized for its environmental impact, GlobalFoundries stands as a testament to innovation and commitment to sustainability in semiconductor manufacturing.
Interviewed by Manufacturing Asia, Dan Steele, the senior director of Global Environmental, Health Safety and Security Operations at GlobalFoundries, gave an overview of the company’s approach to sustainable chipmaking.
“Sustainable chipmaking is not today’s agenda. It’s every day’s agenda,” Steele asserted. He explained that GlobalFoundries has been implementing a comprehensive, long-term plan to increase the efficient use of water, energy, and materials in its semiconductor manufacturing process.
Steele said GlobalFoundries has been proactively reducing its energy consumption for over eight years. One of the notable initiatives includes the installation of solar panels on its facilities. Additionally, the company has transitioned from diesel-fired boilers to electric heat pumps, substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Water conservation has also been a major focal point for the company. By employing innovative strategies to reuse and recycle water, GlobalFoundries has increased its water recycling rates from about 40% to an anticipated 60% by the end of this year.
“For water, we need to increase our recycle rates and make more use of our recycled water. We need to reduce our dependence on natural sources,” Steele said.
Their newly constructed manufacturing site, termed as “7H,” has achieved Green Mark Gold status from the Building Construction Authority, signifying exemplary environmental performance.
Another pillar of sustainability at GlobalFoundries is responsible material sourcing and management. Steele highlighted that the company focuses on using materials necessary for production and constantly seeks alternatives that are less detrimental to the environment.
If there’s any proof of its efforts, GlobalFoundries was certified as zero landfill by the Underwriters Laboratories in 2021, becoming the first semiconductor company in Southeast Asia to achieve this distinction.
When asked by Manufacturing Asia about the firm’s technology strategies to ensure sustainability in the semiconductor industry, Steele mentioned the Open Innovation Challenge in Singapore, where GlobalFoundries is working with technical partners to develop innovative solutions to environmental challenges.
The company already utilises IT-controlled automated systems to manage production intelligently, optimising the use of energy and materials. Artificial intelligence and machine learning also play a significant role in predictive maintenance, reducing downtime and resource consumption.
To address the challenges of making semiconductors sustainable, Steele acknowledged that it requires dedicated effort and collaboration with suppliers, universities, governments, and industry associations.
He emphasised the importance of ensuring supply chains are committed to sustainability. “Achieving net zero emissions status for the industry is going to require a lot of effort, dedicated effort,” Steele added.
But optimism and knowledge are one thing, and committed action is another. It is from the latter that Steele is able to paint a picture of a future where sustainability in the semiconductor industry is achievable.
With GlobalFoundries leading the way, the industry already has a blueprint for every player to chart the trajectory towards collective environmental efficiency and responsibility.