ISMI sketches out “green” fab standards, practices

May 16, 2007 – Reporting results from a recent workshop, the International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI) says its members have agreed to draft a “green fab standard” to build more environmentally friendly plants, using a set of best practices and tactics.

The best practices list includes ways to conserve energy in current factories by using tricks like tuning down tool exhaust fans, and more complex procedures such as implementing software to automatically control equipment pumps. Going green could also save fabs money, perhaps $100,000/year for each 1% reduction in energy consumption, ISMI notes.

At a “Green Fab Workshop,” ISMI members and representatives from universities and fab design and construction industry compared current best practices for sustainable fabs and discussed how to make those compatible with guidelines in the Leadership in Energy and Engineering Design (LEED) rating system, established by the US Green Building Council and seeing more adoption among semiconductor companies.

Creating standards within this common ground, targeting areas such as “right-sized” facilities and systems, fab environmental monitoring, and better management of energy supplies, water usage, and wastewater treatment & recovery systems, “will help proliferate the construction of sustainable factories and shareholders,” said Beasley. “It also will be a key step toward introducing LEED into the high-tech sector,” noted James Beasley, ISMI’s project manager for ESH Technology and chairman for the green fab workshop.

Meanwhile, in an ISMI “fab energy conservation workshop,” participants compiled a list of best practices (dubbed “golden nuggets”) such as installing solid-state chillers that are more energy-efficient and offer better temperature and process control than compressor-based chillers; developing a factory automation interface to idle vacuum pumps when not in use, and reducing excessive exhaust requirements in some tool specs. The group also pointed to ways to use “innovate equipment components” such as a replacement diffusion furnace element that can reduce power consumption by 20%, and a thermal annealer that uses 1/4 energy as conventional lamp-style annealers.


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