Intel’s Todd Brady on Corporate Water Stewardship Today & How to Maximize Water Abundance
Todd Brady is director of global public affairs and sustainability for Intel Corporation. In this role he leads Intel’s state and local government affairs, media and community relations, corporate volunteerism and sustainability at the company’s major manufacturing and office locations around the globe. In addition to overseeing regulatory and community engagement strategies in the US, China, Southeast Asia, Israel, Ireland and Latin America, he directs Intel’s global initiatives to make Intel “smart & green” by leading corporate-wide sustainability programs such as climate, energy and water conservation, green design and the integration of internet of things (IoT) solutions to create smart and green offices, buildings and facilities of the future.
Q: Normally, corporations get into water stewardship through maximizing efficiency inside their four walls before they move to a watershed approach. But Intel is so high-tech — already at the limits of maximizing efficiency. So what have been the incentives for Intel to go outside your four walls and do stewardship? And what forms does that stewardship take?
Todd Brady: Intel has focused on water conservation within our operations for decades. In the early 1990’s, we began reporting on our environmental impacts, and that was around the time we also partnered with the city of Chandler, Arizona to invest in on-site water conservation infrastructure that allows us to send water from our manufacturing operations for treatment and reuse by the city as well as to receive grey water from the city to use in our operations.
“Opportunities can have many angles, including business opportunities.” — Todd Brady
We continue to focus on conserving and reusing water in our operations, but we determined that we could do more to restore water for local use. That eventually led to the development of our global water restoration goal, which is our commitment to restore 100 percent of our water use back to the community. Since we first announced that goal in late 2017, we’ve made tremendous progress towards meeting it, with seven collaborative community-based projects to support Arizona’s water supply as well as other projects supporting the U.S. communities where we have operations. (Go here for more information on these projects.)
Q: Where do you see corporate water stewardship today? Has it moved toward making actual impact on water supplies and abundance? What are the obstacles toward moving even more in that direction?
Todd Brady: We are not alone in this forward-looking approach to water management. We’ve learned from the great work that other corporations are doing in the water stewardship space. For example, in addition to Intel, some of the large beverage companies have been instrumental in advancing innovative water restoration efforts. Collectively, we’ve most definitely made an impact — there is more water in the rivers and watersheds today than there would be without our involvement. One of the stakeholders we work with in Camp Verde, Arizona shared that they were able to go kayaking on the Verde River last summer — something which wasn’t possible before actions taken to support this watershed.
“At Intel, we use grey water in both our Arizona and California operations. Achieving this required strong communication between Intel and our local water providers to identify the opportunity and coordinate infrastructure.” — Todd Brady
In addition to corporate efforts, none of this would be possible without the critical work that our nonprofit partners are doing on the ground. At Intel, we know how to manufacture technology, but we’re not the experts in working with local stakeholders such as farmers, ranchers and other community members. We’re very invested in this cause — and are actively looking for ways to increase awareness and encourage other companies to join us on this journey.
Q: What’s the role of the private sector in pushing us toward blended systems of green and grey water infrastructure — and where are the greatest opportunities for that push?
Todd Brady: We know our own operations the best, so the private sector — especially large industrial users of water — needs to look closely at our water use and determine whether or not green and grey water can be used to meet our needs. Then it’s a matter of working with water providers to identify where the opportunities align with supply. At Intel, we use grey water in both our Arizona and California operations. Achieving this required strong communication between Intel and our local water providers to identify the opportunity and coordinate infrastructure.
Q: How does reframing global water as opportunities to maximize abundance (rather than a series of challenges to alleviate scarcity) change the game for corporations and the role they play in water innovation?
Todd Brady: Opportunities can have many angles, including business opportunities. For example, better monitoring of leaky pipes, better modeling of distribution systems and watersheds, better measurement of soil moisture, and better smart agriculture systems all provide opportunities for information technology hardware and software applications and market growth for companies developing such solutions.
At Intel, we have a three-part water strategy: (1) conserve water in our own operations; (2) collaborate with stakeholders on restoration opportunities beyond our operations; and (3) create technology solutions that enable others to build products and services that enable water availability. Together, this strategy can help maximize abundance — and it’s a path that many other corporations can take.