Want to get greener? New fab EHS benchmark tool debuted

November 20, 2009 – Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Labs have come up with a tool to gauge a semiconductor facility‘s energy and water consumption, and compare against similar facilities, to identify areas of improvement — all toward the pursuit of a "greener" industry.

The Fabs21 beta tool draws on research at Lawrence Berkeley Labs examining other high-tech facilities (labs, data centers, cleanrooms), as well as survey methods/data collected by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and validated with help from ISMI’s Green Fab working group.

Users can compare up to 46 different building- and system-level metrics for semiconductor manufacturing facilities, distilled into two categories: energy and water consumption characteristics. A facility’s overall energy and water efficiency, for example, can be benchmarked as kWh/cm2, BTU/cm2 wafer out, and gallons/ft2 of manufacturing space. Such metrics help facility operators applying for LEED certification of existing buildings. The tool also can calculate system-level metrics for "action-oriented benchmarking" to identify potential systems areas for improvement — e.g., ventilation airflow efficiency (W/ft3/m) or chiller plant efficiency (kW/ton). Metrics span environmental conditions, ventilation, cooling & heating, process equipment, and lighting & electrical systems. Facilities can be benchmarked across a set of years or compared to similar facilities, filtered by criteria such as climate zone, facility type, and cleanliness level.

"Resource efficiency is not just an environmental initiative; it is also an important business process that can reduce costs for fabs," said James Beasley, ESH technology manager for ISMI, in a statement. "Finding ways to conserve resources is vital to the long-term growth of the semiconductor industry, and tools such as the FabS21 benchmark database help ISMI and the industry address the challenges of sustainable manufacturing."

Fabs21 is being beta-tested now by ISMI members, with planned full release sometime later this month (November 2009).

Earlier this year ISMI founded its Environment, Safety & Health (ESH) Technology Center in Austin, TX, dedicated to advancing green semiconductor operations and processes and reducing energy consumption (in both operations and the tools themselves), and by doing so lowering costs and improving productivity. Activities there include technical evaluations and demos, and providing forums for sharing ESH benchmark data, surveys, and best practices.


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