ISMI workshops prompt Green-Fab Standard effort, best practices for energy conservation

May 15, 2007 — Austin, TX — Members of the International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI) have agreed to draft a “green fab standard” aimed at building semiconductor factories that will use less energy and water, minimize waste and air pollution, and ultimately save money for chipmakers.

Simultaneously, ISMI members have compiled a set of best practices and tactics for conserving energy in current factories, using activities as simple as turning down tool exhaust fans, and as complex as writing software to automatically control equipment pumps. Potential cost reductions from these refinements are significant: A typical fab can save at least $100,000 per year for each 1 percent reduction in energy consumption.

Both initiatives stemmed from ISMI’s Green Fab Workshop and Fab Energy Conservation Workshop, held recently in Austin. The two back-to-back meetings brought together industry manufacturers and suppliers in a concentrated effort to drive environmental learning into current chip factories, while defining the requirements for building eco-friendly fabs in the 21st century.

“Being ‘green’ in terms of products, processes, and facilities is mandatory for any industry that wants to thrive in our current environment,” said Scott Kramer, ISMI director. “Chipmakers recognize that eco-friendly manufacturing is a clearly established part of corporate responsibility — something that is expected by investors, customers, and communities around the world.”

At the Green Fab Workshop, representatives from universities and the fab design and construction industry joined ISMI members in comparing current best practices for sustainable fabs to guidelines in the Leadership in Energy and Engineering Design (LEED[R]) rating system established by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Workshop chairman James Beasley explained that LEED(R) certification has proliferated throughout several industries, but is just starting to be developed for the chip sector. To help accelerate this process, the workshop formed task groups to create a “green fab” building standard compatible with LEED(R). Planned elements of that standard would include:

  • “Right-sizing” of facilities and systems
  • Energy supply efficiency and management
  • Safety and risk management
  • Fab environmental monitoring
  • Decreased water usage comparable to that of other industries
  • Innovative wastewater treatment and recovery systems

“Creating a green building standard for fabs compatible with LEED(R) will help proliferate the construction of sustainable factories and shareholders,” said Beasley. “It also will be a key step toward introducing LEED(R) into the high-tech sector.”

During the related Fab Energy Conservation Workshop, ISMI members joined by selected equipment suppliers spent two days sharing results of their energy-conservation projects. These practices were compiled into a list of “golden nuggets” that included:

  • Replacing compressor-based chillers with solid state chillers, which not only save energy but also produce better temperature control in wet processes, provide increased process control in etch chambers, and eliminate the need for refrigerants.
  • Developing a factory automation interface to automatically idle vacuum pumps when not in use, and utilizing the energy efficiency offered by AC pump motors.
  • Reducing excessive exhaust requirements in some tool specifications.
  • Using innovative equipment components, such as a replacement diffusion furnace element with potential to save up to 20 percent in power consumption, and a thermal annealer that uses one-fourth the energy required by conventional, lamp-style annealers.

“Taken together, these golden nuggets define a pathway to ever-greater efficiencies in energy conservation,” said Dale Wilt, workshop chairman. “From the intuitive to the imaginative, these kinds of practices reflect a new age of eco-friendly practices for our members and the industry.”


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