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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

A sustainability assessment of the semi-conductor industry

Jay Golden

A sustainability assessment of the semi-conductor industry

A gap analysis was undertaken to evaluate the interdependencies of
sustainable structures and energy for the high tech sector. The research thesis was
based on the hypothesis that there exists a gap between applied and prescribed
sustainable technology practices and those used within the high tech sector. Two
primary interdependent focus areas were identified to be used as the basis of this
thesis- energy and structures. The researcher is interested in the interdependency of
the built environment with the health of natural environment in rapidly urbanizing
regions. This research forms a baseline for further investigation.

The semiconductor sector was chosen as it is representative of the "new-age"
of high-tech industries including sophisticated electronics and biotechnology, which
are expanding globally and require significant usage of energy within sophisticated
clean room environments. Additionally, research has revealed that future capital
growth in these sectors will be based in rapidly urbanizing regions.

The Intel Corporation was selected as the research subject and the Ocotillo
Campus in Chandler; Arizona USA became the research site. This is a multi-structure
fabrication plant with the high-tech clean rooms, testing facilities as well as generalpurpose
buildings. It is located in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, the most
rapidly urbanizing region in the United States.

Utilizing carbon emissions as the basis for environmental impacts, the
research sought to understand how a multinational Fortune 500 company applies
available technologies in regards to possible prescribed regulatory limitations. These
limitations have the potential for constraining operational flexibility, which can have a
significant economic impact to the organization.

To understand the interdependencies, a baseline was undertaken to identify
and calculate energy usage and C02 emissions for the facility. Once completed,
research was undertaken to identify and calculate mitigation options to meet a
hypothetical 5% reduction of C02 by various existing and emerging technologies such
as renewable energy sources and carbon sequestration.
Based on those findings a gap analysis was performed in regards to efforts
undertaken by the Intel Corporation to reduce energy consumption and related C02
emissions by benchmarking against other multinational firms and external research

These findings concluded there is a gap and that an integrated sustainable
structures and energy program would provide the potential as the most effective
engineering solution to reduce the economic and environmental impacts.



Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.