Heather Benjamin
3 minute read

A global green building program manager shares tips for scaling sustainability.

Implementing sustainability measures for international corporate portfolios requires constant evaluation of what's working and what can be improved.

Taimur Burki, LEED AP O+M, Global Green Building Program Manager for Intel Corp., knows this from more than 20 years of industrial experience. Burki manages Intel's green buildings and solid waste programs and is a founding member of the LEED User Group Industrial Facilities, which works to create greener, healthier and more efficient manufacturing facilities.

A leading company in computing innovation, Intel has a worldwide portfolio of facilities, dozens of which have achieved LEED certification.

What kind of tactics allow Burki to excel in his role? He lays out a few below.

Invest in the staff and technologies you need to truly be efficient.

Intel has followed Design for the Environment principles for several decades. In accordance with these strategies, "My job is to push Intel to improve its processes, facilities and efficiencies," says Burki.

In addition to facilities teams and design engineers, the company also has several dedicated corporate experts whose role is to "look holistically at focus areas to drive improvements and demonstrate a positive return on investment," according to Burki.

Taimur Burki is global green building program manager for Intel

Burki gets hands-on with assessing the company's waste diversion.

He also works with a standing capital budget that the company sets aside for sustainability investments and evaluates opportunities to use that funding to push for renewable energy, energy conservation and water conservation investments.

Burki emphasizes that numbers always count. "Using data to drive these discussions is the most effective way to secure buy-in from teams and executives across the company for these efforts," he says.

Watch a one-minute video on reducing environmental impact featuring Burki on the company's corporate sustainability page.

Manage your portfolio through data and information-sharing.

With such a large, complex portfolio of space types and locations, how does Burki go about finding the technologies he needs?

It starts with creating an information-sharing culture. Intel has operations all over the world, and sharing across locations and roles helps teams identify appropriate technologies and methods for reducing environmental impact, says Burki.

Next comes scaling effective strategies. For example, "what works in Israel at our PTK1 building, which is our smartest and most sustainable building, can provide a model for improvement at our other new builds," he says. The building is part of a LEED Platinum R&D campus in the center of the country.

The LEED Platinum PTK1 Intel office building in Petach Tivka, Israel.

"We also work across companies and industries—from water treatment to waste management to chemical re-use and recycling—so that we’re continuously learning about what’s new and impactful. Once we figure out what works, we document it into our standards so that we have a strong foundation to build off of for our next project," explains Burki.

He adds, "At many of our factories, we have continuous water and energy monitoring on many subsystems, which allows us to use data—including return-on-investment estimates—to drive these discussions and secure buy-in for these efforts from teams and executives across the company."

Stay open to new ideas and connect with others.

Burki shares his knowledge at industry events, but also values exploring outside the realm of his main areas of expertise.

"Greenbuild is a conference I’ve presented at several times and see value in attending, and USGBC as an organization has been a great forum for sharing across organizations," says Burki. In his view, USGBC has been helpful in creating a network of professionals focused on integrating sustainability within all the spaces people use.

He adds, "I also try to get out of the echo chamber and attend events where the focus isn’t specifically on sustainability practitioners. For example, I recently attended a future-focused event put on by the XPRIZE Foundation that brought together innovators and creators from around the world to ideate on how we can put our collective brainpower towards addressing some of our biggest challenges."

"Getting out of your usual space can often make a big difference" in innovative thinking, Burki says.

In addition, Burki makes an effort to meet regularly one-on-one with other professionals, especially young people interested in working in sustainability.

Resources for global program managers

Burki is a member of USGBC Faculty, as well as a frequent commenter on course ratings. In his work, he has found Education @USGBC courses on zero waste and water conservation, especially the case studies, to be helpful.

Resources for those in similar roles:

View the World Green Building Trends 2018 SmartMarket Report to learn how the use of data and technology is growing in green building.

Read about how corporate sustainability officers implement CSR strategies.

Learn more about LEED v4.1 at Greenbuild Atlanta, to be held Nov. 19–22.

Resources for those exploring this career or topic:

Earn the LEED AP O+M credential:

Explore USGBC education resources