As part of our 2030 goals, we are raising the bar for ourselves and evolving our corporate responsibility strategy to increase the scale of our work with others to create a more responsible, inclusive, and sustainable world, enabled by technology and our collective actions. We sat down with Vanessa Lanas Delbridge, Intel’s Water Program Manager, to discuss the importance of water to Intel, conservation and restoration progress, and what’s next.
Tell us about you and your role at Intel.
As Water Stewardship Program Manager with Intel, my role is focused on implementing Intel’s global water strategy to achieve net-positive water use by 2030. I joined our Sustainability team in April 2021, after leading environmental compliance programs at our Ronler Acres campus in Oregon for more than five years, and about 8 years prior to Intel, I focused on environmental conservation for non-profit and consulting organizations. I’m excited to collaborate with our internal teams to achieve Intel's water conservation goal, and with external organizations to implement water restoration projects. We just published a report on the restoration progress we made in the last year, and it is so cool to see how far we’ve come in just a few years.
What got you interested in sustainability and water?
The environment has been my passion from a young age. I remember watching, when I was very young, a documentary about the long journeys that blue whales make to the Galapagos Islands every year to feed and breed. I was very impressed about this adventure – how do they not get lost?! – and that sparked my curiosity.
Vanessa in a Penn State research lab where she researched an innovative way to treat domestic wastewater using bacteria and harvest electrical energy from the process.
I have invested a significant part of my career in the field of water management. That has not always been planned! In the early years of my career, I followed the opportunities that were available and the time, and those different projects and jobs put me in this sometimes-meandering path. I consider myself very lucky because that is how I found my calling. Water is the very essence of life. I love water in every shape and form!
Now I try to share this interest with my two-year-old daughter. She is still little, but we are learning to turn off the lights when we leave a room, and to close the faucet while we brush our teeth.
Vanessa with her daughter.
What is the 2030 global impact goal you are focused on?
The 2030 Global Impact goal I’m focused on is our goal to achieve net positive water by 2030. Simply put, this means returning more freshwater to the environment than what we use. There are two parts to the goal; (1) conserving 60 billion gallons of water within our operations, and (2) funding external water projects that restore more water than what we consume.
Why is water so important to Intel?
A reliable water supply is critical to semiconductor manufacturing. We set our water conservation goal because it is critical for us to understand our water footprint and to manage the resource responsibly and efficiently – after all, we’re not the only ones who need water in the communities where we operate; everyone uses water!
For our water restoration goal, we partner with local environmental non-profit organizations to fund projects that restore water to our local watersheds, including projects that conserve, protect, treat or return water that support the ecosystem. For example, we have supported the Arizona Drought Contingency Plan with the Colorado River Indian Tribes, to protect water in the Colorado River Basin. It’s one of 16 projects we’ve funded to support Arizona’s water resources.
What have you and the water conservation working team been focused on recently to achieve our goals?
The Intel Global Water Management Group is a team of water management and conservation experts from around the world who are passionate about water conservation. We have identified Water Champions for all major Intel sites and are digging in to find new opportunities to conserve water within our operations, and share successful projects so teams can implement them at additional locations.
What’s a common misconception about water conservation?
I think a common misconception is that water is an almost-infinite resource since the surface of earth is largely covered by water, and therefore there is no need to conserve it. In reality, just a small fraction of the water on our planet is freshwater available for consumption, and even that small percentage faces challenges like pollution and increasing demand for competing priorities such as drinking water, agriculture, industry, and power generation.
What’s a big opportunity we should all be thinking about?
I am sure this is in a lot of peoples’ minds, but I would appeal to the great power we all have as consumers. A little bit of research can go a long way. Whenever possible, purchase products and services from businesses committed to water conservation in their operations and within their supply chains. Collective consumer effort and accountability are a huge driver for companies to use natural resources efficiently.
If you could get people to take one action to conserve water, what would it be?
I would say go for the big-ticket items! The largest indoor use of household water is flushing the toilet. Replacing toilets, especially older models, with water efficient ones, can save a lot of water.
For outdoor spaces, landscape irrigation accounts for a large part of residential water use in the average US home. Consider installing less water-intensive landscapes with drought-tolerant greenery.
Those are two actions, but big challenges call for big commitments
Learn more about our RISE strategy and Intel’s 2030 goals here.
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