To coincide with Earth Day, Intel Ireland Director of Construction Niall Dillon shares perspectives on Intel’s commitment to green design standards and building concepts and outlines some of the ways we are working to implement sustainable practices in our construction environment in Ireland.
Building a sustainable future
At Intel, we are committed to pushing ourselves and our industry peers to be more responsible, inclusive, and sustainable in all that we do. This is a commitment that we pursue every day, but one that we are proud to highlight today as the world marks Earth Day.
Our commitment to a more responsible, inclusive, and sustainable world is one that requires a broad portfolio of efforts. From pursuing new ways to reduce emissions and improve energy management, to efficient building design.
Our global operations are reliant on manufacturing sites and buildings, an aspect of our business that accounts for the majority of our environmental impact. To reduce this, our engineers have, for many years, incorporated green design standards and building concepts into the construction of our facilities. Many of our existing manufacturing facilities have been LEED certified: more than 14.5 million square feet of space in 45 buildings, which is approximately 25% of our total operational space. LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – is the most widely used green building rating system in the world.
On the path to LEED Gold certification in our Ireland Expansion project
Here in Ireland, we began a large-scale manufacturing expansion project at the Intel campus in Leixlip in early 2019. The project, in which $7 billion has already been invested, is one of the largest construction activities in Europe and will see Intel double its available manufacturing space at the campus.
For the expansion project, we are in the process of compiling and submitting data to the USGBC (United States Green Building Council) and Green Building Certification Institute as part of the LEED process for review. I am proud to share that the project is on target to achieve LEED Gold status.
There are many areas of focus required to achieve LEED Gold standard, at a glance;
- Under the scope of transportation, we have exceeded the LEED requirements for green vehicle parking with 65 electric vehicle charging stations available. We also have access to quality transit through offsite public transportation options and access to a dedicated on-site transit system of bussing.
- The expansion project will be the first Intel manufacturing facility to completely utilise LED lighting which uses a significantly lower amount of power than a traditional fluorescent unit. Additionally, as the LED units are programmable and sensor enabled, they can be controlled in order to further reduce their use. This means that we don’t unnecessarily have to leave lights on when an area or room is not occupied.
- Energy metering is being installed in order to give stakeholders valuable information regarding how buildings are performing and to drive efficiencies of mechanical and electrical systems through monitoring and control.
- When it comes to materials, the expansion project has taken care to source low emitting materials to drive good indoor air quality. One specific example of this is the material being used in our raised metal flooring.
- In the past 2 years alone, the expansion project has recycled over 298 thousand tons of waste.
Heat recovery in our new build
When designing our new manufacturing building, the opportunity was taken to incorporate heat recovery systems to maximise the collection and use of the low-grade heat generated by the manufacturing process. This allowed the design approach to select air handlers and heat exchangers across the buildings to be able to utilise the low-grade heating water generated by the heat recovery system. Therefore, maximising the number and size of heat recovery chillers the system can use to produce the heat required by the buildings.
The amount of high-grade heat generated by burning natural gas is minimised to only that required by the production process when low-grade heat can not be used. By using an energy mapping method during the design, additional sources of heat were identified which can be utilised to obtain waste heat from the process, further reducing the amount of heat required to support the building. When fully operational, the buildings will be using 9:1 ratio of heat generated by heat recovery versus heat generated by traditional methods.
Low carbon cement
Cement concrete is the most frequently used construction material in the world. As such a significant component of a building project, it has a role to play in reducing the environmental effects of construction. For construction activity at the Intel campus in Leixlip, where possible, we have been using eco-friendly, low carbon cement.
To create the low carbon solution, Ground Granulated Blast Furnace Slag (GGBS), which is a recycled material, is used in the mix design of the concrete in order to increase the recycled content of the concrete and reduce the environmental impact of a structure or precast element.
GBGS is a by-product from steel production as leftover material from steel mills are ground down and used to create this alternative that is typically half as polluting as normal cement and produces less CO2 emissions.
A specific aspect of construction that has recently been completed at our campus was the installation of a new Multistorey carpark. For this project, thousands of precast units were pieced together to form a new 5-story car park with capacity for 2,200 cars. For this project we utilised low-carbon cement in approximately 33% of the pre-cast units.
We are now utilising GGBS based cement in our expansion project, both for precast units being manufactured offsite and later fitted in position, and for elements that are being constructed in situ at the build site.
Off Site Manufacturing
For the manufacturing expansion project, we have been able to utilise a significant amount of off-site manufacturing. This means that we can construct, assemble and stage a number of modular units at a location away from the main site and transport the units in as required. The construction site for our manufacturing expansion is a relatively tight space with a limited amount of laydown area available. Offsite manufacturing enables, from a footprint perspective, the ability to create extra space.
It also enables greater precision and predictability whilst lessening some of the heavy construction activity required on-site. An aspect of off-site manufacturing that is perhaps lesser recognised however, is that it is often a more sustainable approach.
For example, off-site manufacturing enables us to move significant elements of the construction process from the building site to a location that is more like a factory or warehouse environment. The factory or warehouse location has much more control of aspects such as light and heat than construction sites with greater opportunities for efficiencies.
By constructing modules in an offsite location, there is a reduction in the overall number of vehicle movements and deliveries needed at the building site. By utilising precast elements, 800 fewer truck deliveries were needed just in the construction of our new Multistorey carpark at the site. Off-site manufacturing also leads to a reduction in noise and ground disturbance and when the modular units are delivered to site they are typically installed directly into their final position without any additional work required which reduces waste generation at the construction site.
Our commitment to green design standards and building concepts in the construction of our facilities is shaping how we deliver large scale building projects, driving innovation and efficiencies that will create a more sustainable construction approach and with it, a lasting environmental impact.
Niall Dillon is the Director of Construction at Intel Ireland.
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