AMD Aims for Lower Emissions, Greener Products

AMD Aims for Lower Emissions, Greener Products

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) surpassed its 2007 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goal and now intends to cut normalized emissions by a third by 2010.

The Silicon Valley chipmaker released its eighth annual Global Climate Protection Plan (GCPP) today to offer a glimpse of its efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of its products and operations. In addition to setting new goals for trimming GHGs and energy use, the company is, for the first time, reporting the indirect Scope 3 emissions from its supply chain, distribution, and employee commuting and business travel.

"We are rapidly moving toward a system in which there will be carbon regulations -- be it tax or carbon trade -- and Scope 3 will become more and more important," Larry Vertal, AMD's senior strategist, told ClimateBiz.   

The company takes a triple-pronged approach to climate change by focusing on its operations, products and partnerships. AMD slashed normalized GHG emissions in its operations 50 percent between 2002 and 2007, and cut energy consumption by 30 percent. By 2010, AMD intends to reduce normalized GHG emissions 33 percent, measured against a 2006 baseline, and lower energy use by 40 percent.

The company normalizes GHG emissions and energy use by the size and number of chips it produces and complexity of the process. Normalizing against production, rather than using absolute emissions, provides a consistent metric less likely to be skewed in an industry with frequent divestitures and acquisitions, Vertal said.

"We sold off our interest in Spansion," Vertal said. "That could have made us look really good because we got rid of a very old (fabrication facility). But that wouldn't have taken into account the true underlying drivers."

For example, absolute GHG emissions in 2007 grew dramatically at its Singapore facility -- 269 percent -- compared to 2006 levels, but the figures don't reflect the facility's rapid expansion that took place before energy conservation measures were finished, Vertal said. That pulled total company emissions upward 32 percent. AMD doesn't expect Singapore-related emissions to remain at 2007 levels.

Divesting some of its interests is one reason the company decided to start collecting Scope 3 emissions data, as defined under the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Collecting Scope 3 emissions often is a laborious process that relies on gleaning sound data from sources and operations over which companies have little or no control. Yet supply chain emissions often account for the bulk of product carbon footprints.

As part of a joint venture with ATI, AMD will relinquish control over some fabrication facilities, making them a part of its supply chain. "We will not completely own those ourselves," Vertal said. "Today they're included in Scope 1 and 2 ... We can either go greenwashing or more honestly report those under Scope 3."

Vertal emphasized the importance of collecting solid data when companies examine their emissions. "This is fundamentally a data driven journey," he said. "Putting the processes and procedures in place -- while not glamorous -- is the entire foundation on which progress can be made."

AMD also is reducing emissions in its own operations by building new greener operations and manufacturing facilities, retrofitting old ones and buying renewable energy. Earlier this year AMD completed its LEED Gold-certified Lone Star campus in Austin, Texas, which runs on 100 percent green power.

To produce greener products, AMD in 2005 began concentrating on making chips with improved performance per watt, rather than solely focusing on performance. Earlier this year, the company released its several processors and chipsets designed to use less power, including its Phenom multi-core processors.

"What it did is created an environment with products that allow our customers -- who make computers -- a huge magnification effect on energy usage, and that has a direct relation to CO2 because of electricity generation," Vertal said.

The company also detailed its employee business travel and commute programs in its Climate Action Plan, as well as the relationships it has formed to further green computing and reduce its carbon footprint, including Sustainable Silicon Valley and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership

Two-way collaboration is key to a successful partnership. He pointed to AMD's status as a founding member of The Green Grid to advance a greener IT industry. "Intel also is one of the founding companies," he said of AMD's rival. "We put down the boxing gloves and collaborated on an issue that was very important. That was energy efficiency."