Water Management

Because water quality and scarcity are growing concerns that affect all people and industries, we are committed to proper water use management practices for all Cree sites. We continuously strive to implement best management practices that conserve and recycle water and prevent and reduce water pollution:

  • Cree’s Durham site has been recycling process water since 2005, and we currently recycle an average of 120,000 gallons of water per day. Cree’s Huizhou site installed a new water recycling system in 2017 and now recycles an average of 211,000 gallons of water per day. Both facilities have goals to improve water recycling rates.
  • In 2007, Cree’s Durham and RTP sites initiated a wastewater pre-treatment system, which prevents 22,000 pounds of fluoride each year from entering a local water supply. Cree’s Racine site also has a wastewater pre-treatment system which prevents various metals from entering a local water supply.
  • In 2016, Cree’s Durham site implemented a new system for its cooling towers to reduce water usage, which will lead to an annual estimated savings of 4 million gallons of water.
  • At all sites, Cree has implemented best management practices for control of stormwater to minimize the effects of stormwater run-off.
  • Cree’s Durham site is reducing the risks associated with chemical spills by using a stormwater conveyance system which allows for containment in the event of an incident.
  • In 2018, Cree installed additional rainwater collection at the Durham site, and now collects rainwater to supplement water used in the production process.

Water Withdrawals, Discharges, and Consumption

All of Cree’s manufacturing facilities’ water withdrawals primarily come from municipal (third-party) sources. Our other sources of water withdrawal include recycled water and rainwater, depending on the facility. All water used at Cree manufacturing sites is freshwater. Most of our water is used during electronics manufacturing including cooling tower use, but water is also used for irrigation and human consumption (i.e., drinking water, sanitary sewer and water used in locations where we have an on-site cafeteria). We work internally to ensure each department receives the water required for each step of the manufacturing process, as to not compromise product quality. We engage with our local water supply and wastewater treatment plants to plan for infrastructure needed for future water use, and have a water conservation and management plan in the event that water from local sources is reduced due to a drought. We have not yet worked with other suppliers or customers on water related issues.

Both Cree’s Durham and Huizhou sites have water recycle systems to offset municipal water purchases and reduce the consumption of water. Our water recycle rate goals were developed for the sites that are Cree’s largest water users. The goals were set based on the technology available, the quality of water needed as an output of the process, the availability of water in the operating region, water recycle regulations in place, and to align with our ISO 14001 environmental management systems. The goals aim to ensure each site optimizes their water recycle systems, including ensuring better operation and maintenance of the systems to reduce down time. Refer to our Environmental Goals page for more information about our water recycle goals.

All Cree facilities discharge to a municipal (third-party) waste water treatment plant and are subject to local discharge requirements. Water discharged meets local regulatory requirements for water quality, including nutrients levels, metals, pH, temperature, etc. All of Cree’s manufacturing sites have wastewater permits that mandate the quality of water discharged. Cree’s stormwater is also monitored to ensure it meets discharge criteria, which prevents degradation of local water supplies.

Cree’s 2018 Global Manufacturing Water Usage

SourceAll FacilitiesFacilities in Med-High Water Stress1 RegionsFacilities in High Water Stress1 Regions
Water Withdrawals (millions of gallons)
Third-Party Water 422.8 422.6 0.2
Recycled Water 132.3 132.3 0.0
Rain Water 0.1 0.1 0.0
Total Water Withdrawal 555.2 555.0 0.2
Water Discharges (millions of gallons)
Third-Party Waste Water 271.9 271.6 0.2
Recycled Water 132.3 132.3 0.0
Total Water Discharge 404.2 403.9 0.2
Water Consumption (millions of gallons)
Water Consumed or Evaporated in Process 150.9 150.9 0.0

1 All of Cree’s global manufacturing facilities were assessed for water stress using the World Resources Institute Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas. Medium to high water stress indicates the facility(ies) scored 2 to 3 out of 5 for Overall Water Risk. High water stress indicates the facility(ies) scored 3 to 4 out of 5 for Overall Water Risk. Overall Water Risk identifies regions that have a higher exposure to water-related risks and represents an aggregated measure of all indicators from the individual water risk categories of Physical Risk Quantity, Physical Risk Quality and Regulatory & Reputational Risk (Source: WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas)

Cree’s Global Manufacturing Water Consumption
in Millions of Gallons

Cree’s Global Manufacturing Water Consumption in Millions of Gallons

Cree's Global Manufacturing Water Discharges
in Millions of Gallons

Cree's Global Manufacturing Water Discharges (in millions of gallons) graph.