Corporations that design facilities to minimize their environmental impact may earn a financial return, too. That is Intel’s experience as it prepares to open two significant installations: a research and development building in Israel and a $2.5-billion integrated-circuit fabrication plant in China. “We haven’t run out of projects that get a three-year return on investment,” says Todd Brady, Intel’s corporate environmental manager.

Intel’s building in Haifa, due to open early in 2009, will comply with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. The $600,000 spent on green investments will pay off quickly, with $200,000 in operational savings annually. Space heating, for example, will come from waste heat captured from the crowd of computers in the data center instead of from a conventional boiler system. Three quarters of the occupied office space will receive enough daylight for full lighting, greatly reducing electricity demand.

The fabrication plant in Dalian, China, should open by 2010. With an extensive heat-recovery system, the plant will need only one natural gas boiler, compared with three for similar facilities. Buildings are positioned to exploit the sun’s daily path overhead for light and heat and to bring in cool winds off the bay as needed. Intel also plans for its fabrication plant to emit exceptionally low levels of perfluorinated compound vapors, which contribute to global warming.