On March 9, 2006, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute held a briefing to hear from Paul Westbrook on the competitive advantage to American businesses of using integrated, sustainable building design. He shared the innovative sustainable design elements used in Texas Instruments' Richardson plant and his own home and address issues with interconnectivity that remain barriers for homeowners in utilizing some of these technologies. Briefing speakers included:
Paul Westbrook, Sustainable Development Manager, Texas Instruments Worldwide Construction
As a global manufacturer of microchips, Texas Instruments’ (TI) business is extremely energy-intensive due to elaborate equipment needed to provide a climate- and humidity-controlled, dust-free environment for fabricating microchip wafers. Heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems consume between 30–50 percent of their fabrication plant’s electricity.
Faced with the twin concerns of high operational costs and increasing global competition, TI had considered building its newest facility overseas where it could take advantage of low labor costs along with subsidies and tax breaks. The TI design team assigned itself the challenge of reducing the plant’s capital cost by 30 percent to help keep it in the United States. Since green building design is assumed to cost more, its concepts might have been seen at odds with a cost reduction strategy. Yet, Paul Westbrook, TI’s sustainable development manager, convinced TI to build its manufacturing facility utilizing hyper-efficient building design concepts, thereby reducing the operating costs of the facility and further improving the company’s competitiveness. In parallel, the TI team reduced both capital and operating costs using the same integrated design philosophy. “[Green building] is about addressing the consumption side with really creative design and engineering to eliminate waste and reduce energy usage – it’s the next industrial revolution,” said Westbrook.
Working with the Rocky Mountain Institute, Westbrook and the TI team designed the new plant with various passive solar innovations, smarter exhaust systems and other efficiency services that would make the facility cost less, work more efficiently, and win in the marketplace. In the end, they succeeded in building a state-of-the-art, high-efficiency, million square foot microchip fabrication plant for $180 million less than TI’s most recently built factory in Dallas. Westbrook predicts that the new facility will cut energy use by at least 20 percent and water use by 35 percent, compared with TI's Dallas facility. TI’s Vice President for Worldwide Facilities Shaunna Sowell states, “We are proud to prove on a global basis that you can [be] green and energy-sensitive and reduce costs and increase profits.”
As part of its plan to keep its new facility in the United States and provide high-tech jobs to American workers, TI negotiated with the Texas State Legislature, the University of Texas and several private sources to provide $300 million to TI to improve science and engineering studies at the University of Texas in Dallas.