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Where Sustainability Meets Technology

inBusiness PHX

At the heart of every technological advancement, semiconductors are silently powering the future. But as we enter an era where sustainability is not just a choice but a necessity, the semiconductor industry is finding itself at a crossroads. The recent GreenBiz 24 conference in Phoenix not only highlighted the latest sustainable practices but also the challenges and triumphs of intertwining technology with eco-consciousness.

Joel Makower, chairman and co-founder of GreenBiz, opened the event not with traditional remarks but with a poetic cadence, underscoring the urgency and complexity of the sustainability movement. “We need to rid ourselves of the illusion that we can be sustainable without real inclusion,” Makower rhymed, drawing attention to the fact that being environmentally conscious is not just about policies or numbers; it’s a holistic approach that includes every stakeholder in the equation.

The conversation wasn’t just limited to environmentalists or tech enthusiasts either. Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix brought a local perspective, noting the city’s unique approach to sustainability, including leveraging its abundant solar energy and innovating in water management, reflecting the city’s historical roots and the original indigenous communities’ sophisticated canal systems. “We exist because of water management … and it’s very much in our DNA,” said Mayor Gallego, echoing the city’s commitment to sustainability that is both historical and forward-looking.

Bill Weihl, a prominent figure in the sustainability field from his time at Google and Facebook and now with Climate Voice, used his platform to push for more action. Despite his battle with ALS and losing his natural speaking ability, Weil’s synthesized voice was a powerful call to action, emphasizing the urgent need for policy support to meet net-zero goals and a just transition away from fossil fuels.

Semiconductor companies typically focus on reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions under their direct control. Scope 1 emissions primarily arise from process gases used in manufacturing, while Scope 2 emissions come from purchased electricity and other energy sources. Collaboration across the industry and with external partners is essential for reaching sustainability targets.​

While discussions on policy and community engagement were central to the event, GreenBiz 24 also highlighted the influential role of social media in shaping public perception and behavior. Influencers Leah Thomas and Zahra Biabani shared insights on how authentic content creation can lead to real environmental change, bridging the gap between sustainability goals and public action.

It became evident that the semiconductor industry, along with every sector represented at GreenBiz 24, has the shared responsibility of marrying innovation with sustainability. The semiconductor industry, critical to modern technology, faces its challenges in aligning with sustainability goals. The industry’s leaders are called upon to embrace renewable energy, reduce waste and engage in responsible water usage — a resource that is both critical and scarce, especially in the arid landscape of Arizona. Every step forward in technology must be matched with a mindful footprint on the planet.

As we look to the future, events like GreenBiz 24 are not just gatherings but catalysts for change, reminding us that the work of sustainability is never done in isolation. It requires a chorus of diverse voices, from the poetic chairman to the influential social media creators and every participant in between. In the words of Makower, “That’s how we roll in sustainability.”

Register for the Council’s upcoming Phoenix and Tucson tech events and Optics Valley optics + photonics events.


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