The National Association of Manufacturers took a step in June toward making energy efficiency a priority by signing an agreement with the U.S. Energy Department to collaborate on energy-reduction efforts. The memorandum of understanding calls for the implementation of energy management programs, clean and efficient technologies, and the establishment of continual energy efficiency and intensity reduction improvements.

For NAM and the Energy Department to succeed in their efforts, manufacturers will need to rethink the way future facilities are built and consider changes to their current structures. Texas Instruments' semiconductor fabrication facility in Richardson, Texas, could serve as a model for manufacturers seeking energy-efficient plant designs.

Though the site is not yet fully operational, the company expects energy savings greater than 20% of a traditional semiconductor fab, according to Lara Wallentine, worldwide environmental safety and health communications director for Texas Instruments. The facility cost approximately $321 million to construct, with an estimated $2 million dedicated toward environmentally friendly features, Wallentine says. Among the key energy-savings features of the 1.1-million-square-foot building completed in May 2006 are:

Reduced bends in piping at Texas Instruments' Richardson, Texas, facility utilize less energy.
  • rooftop solar panels that power the facility's water heater;
  • light shelves that utilize natural daylight, rather than fluorescent bulbs, in work areas;
  • no turns in the piping so less energy is required to push material through.

The company is exploring whether it can apply some of these features at other Texas Instruments facilities. "We have a team that formed earlier this year that is looking at how to implement some of these [features] at existing facilities and how to achieve LEED certification," Wallentine says.

The plant is the first semiconductor facility to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate, according to Texas Instruments. LEED is a national standard set by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council for facilities that meet certain sustainable building criteria.

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