How Applied Materials Turns Energy Data into Efficiency Achievements – and Business Results

Applied Materials, like many other public companies, established enterprise-wide goals for energy and resource efficiency in 2007. The five-year path to achievement of the stated goals was grounded in a significant amount of data collection and analysis that revealed key areas for improvement. Bruce Klafter, managing director of corporate responsibility and sustainability, and Martin Gothberg, corporate responsibility and sustainability manager, have led this initiative since its inception at Applied.

With their leadership, Applied Materials has achieved a 22% reduction in worldwide electricity use, and has exceeded their stated goal of a 20% absolute greenhouse gas reduction (from a 2006 baseline).

They are now designing the next generation of energy and resource conservation goals and initiatives for Applied Materials, a $15 billion public company with over 100 facilities and twelve major factories all over the world. Their current energy profile is roughly 80% purchased electricity (scope 2), the remainder being natural gas consumption, and a small portion represented by emissions of greenhouse gases from lab operations. They are currently tracking electricity, natural gas, water, and renewable energy.

“When we first requested usage data as part of our initial greenhouse gas inventory, what we received back was strictly cost information,” said Bruce Klafter. “This told us that the company was not really managing energy as a resource.”  A more comprehensive understanding of impacts was necessary to achievement of their stated goals. Looking more closely at actual usage and trends over time uncovered significant efficiency opportunities. As Bruce asserts “data reveals areas where we need to work. It’s very important to keep regular tabs on data and other information or you can lose track of important trends.”

A thorough examination of Applied’s comprehensive energy and resource data, including location-to-location and region-to-region comparisons, showed that some operations in the Middle East were less efficient on a relative basis. Water consumption in new operations in Asia were also outside the norm, and conservation measures were undertaken there in order to meet overall company goals.

Applied has also made significant investments in onsite generation – including solar and wind. They have 2.5 megawatts of onsite solar PV installed, including a system in Sunnyvale, California that is 2 megawatts. A portion of the solar installation is visible from a nearby expressway – it’s a great signature project for the company, and it’s also one that the employees love. Applied is also installing a 2.5-megawatt wind turbine on their campus in Gloucester, Massachusetts campus, close to the coast. According to Klafter, when the turbine is up and running, it will supply 30% of the energy for that campus.

In the coming year, Applied will be publishing goals through 2017, another five-year period. This time, they are setting energy goals in two ways; both an absolute reduction target and a normalized reduction target based upon the company’s economic activity. The new goals will be more modest than the first round – many of the most attractive reduction opportunities at the company have already been acted upon. But with greater information, analysis, and benchmarking capabilities, Applied is empowered to quickly act on insights relative to their energy and resource use. And their ability to do so is a competitive advantage. “There’s a desire on the part of our customers to do business with companies who are similarly committed to being responsible in the way they operate,” states Klafter. “We feel the same way.”

Melissa Matlins is senior director of marketing at Hara Software. Hara helps companies turn energy and resource data into business results. Prior to Hara, Melissa led marketing and communications for GreenOrder and LRN. Throughout her career, Melissa has worked with mission-oriented growth companies to position their innovations and technologies for success. Melissa is a graduate of New York University. You can follow her on twitter at @melissamatlins

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One thought on “How Applied Materials Turns Energy Data into Efficiency Achievements – and Business Results

  1. My background is in engineering and construction where my company used the application of “thermal insulation” to conserve energy. Solar panels and wind turbines do not conserve energy, they produce energy. The only possible way to conserve energy is through the application of thermal insulation. I have “patent pending” building system I would like to discuss with you. You may call me at (205) 681-6777. THANKS.

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