Intel’s operations in the US, Costa Rica and India are officially net positive on water use. In those countries, Intel restores and returns more freshwater than it takes in.
Todd Brady, Intel chief sustainability officer and vice president of global public affairs, explains: “More than 10 years ago, we began to explore how we could better understand and reduce our water footprint. Five years ago, we set a public goal to restore 100% of our consumption and became the first tech company to set a company-wide water restoration goal. Two years ago, we announced our goal to achieve net positive water by 2030, driven by our commitment to reduce our overall impact on our local watersheds and support the water resources that serve our communities.”
“It’s exciting to share that we’ve reached net positive water in three countries, through strong partnerships with environmental nonprofits and local governments, and through our water stewardship investments. We are not stopping here – now we are focused on reaching net positive water in the remaining locations where we operate.”
Last year, Intel used 16-billion gallons of freshwater, reclaimed water and desalinated water, and internal water management practices have resulted in more than 13-billion gallons of water flowing out of Intel, back to surrounding communities. Adding in restoration projects, Intel is edging toward its global goal of returning and restoring more water than it uses to the community and the environment. And its new sites are being built to the company’s commitment to reach net positive water globally by 2030.
A lot goes into making Intel’s factories run, but water is arguably one of the most important ingredients. It’s used in the manufacturing process, including in manufacturing tools that produce leading technology, in data centers and in evaporative cooling towers.
Intel uses freshwater as well as reclaimed water purchased from our utilities, but it taps into other, sources, too. In Israel, desalination removes salt from seawater to make it usable. Other Intel facilities may draw water from on-site wells and collect rainwater to top off the supply that comes from the city. Intel’s CSR report includes a balance sheet of where the water for each site comes from and where it goes after.
Balancing the equation of water in and water out means working hard to conserve and reuse water where possible. A portion of the water Intel buys is lost to irrigation and evaporation, but there are huge water-saving efforts that go on inside Intel to make sure it’s as water-conscious as possible.
How will Intel get to global net positive water, especially if there’s water lost to evaporation and other things the company can’t do anything about?
Intel’s restoration efforts make up the gap and ensure Intel’s impact on the planet goes further than just “canceling out” water use in factories. Intel focuses its water restoration efforts in the watersheds impacted by our sites. For instance, in Arizona Intel funded water projects that restored 890-million gallons to the watershed in 2021. The projects vary, from traditional conservation to a focus on shifting local economies in ways that will have a long-term impact.