ISMI Dictates Green-Fab Standards

June 3, 2007
Alliance of semiconductor manufacturers drafts best practices for efficiency and energy conservation

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 chip-makers.

ISMI members also compiled a set of best practices for conserving energy in current factories, with tactics ranging from the simple (turning down tool exhaust fans) to the complex (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.

At the ISMI's recent 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) rating system established by the U.S. Green Building Council.

LEED certification has proliferated throughout several industries, but is just starting to be developed for the chip sector. To help accelerate LEED adoption, the workshop formed task groups to create a "green fab" building standard which 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

During the related Fab Energy Conservation Workshop, ISMI members joined by selected equipment suppliers spent two days sharing results of their energy-conservation projects, which included:

  • Replacing compressor-based chillers with solid state chillers, which save energy and 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

More information is available at

Interested in information related to sustainable manufacturing best practices? Bookmark our Making Green page, and check back daily for updated content.
About the Author

Brad Kenney | Chief Marketing Officer

Brad Kenney is the former Technology Editor of IndustryWeek and now serves as director of the mobile/social platforms practice at R/GA, a global marketing/advertising firm in New York City.

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