Just in time for Earth Day 2014 last week, Apple pushed a campaign advertising its clean-energy makeover through Apple’s new data centers. Apple used this video as part of the campaign to briefly highlight the company’s clean energy improvements.
On the website, Apple gives more detail about its goal to power all its facilities with energy from renewable resources: solar, wind, micro-hydro, and geothermal energies. Apple has been designing and updating facilities with this initiative in mind.
Apple has also given more recent publicity to its progress toward that 100% renewable energy goal, with its corporate campuses and data centers now about 94% powered by renewable energy sources (Corporate campuses are around 86%, and data centers are 100% powered by renewable energy). This percentage is nearly three times what it was four years ago in 2010.
Part of Apple’s new environmental campaign felt a little bit like a confession, but a really, really nice version of one. With statements like, “we know we use a lot of energy and material, which in turn generates greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change,” and, “It won’t all happen overnight. But we can work to get better every day” [source], Apple seems to be saying something similar to, “Look, we know we’re not exactly good for the environment but have a little patience with us… please? We’re trying.”
With a 2011 report and a 2012 campaign that targeted Apple as an environmentally “dirty” company, Greenpeace may have helped bring about these confessions and productive steps toward environmental responsibility (though Apple states that its clean energy efforts were underway before the Greenpeace attacks).
No matter what the cause is, Apple’s recent years have shown more environmentally-friendly changes and Greenpeace has since commended Apple’s efforts. While the 94% renewable energy statistic does not include manufacturing, transporting, or the use of its products (areas of the business that account for the whopping majority of its carbon footprint), Apple has made great improvements in reducing its negative impact on the environment and is still working on improving these other areas.
For example, the first iMac computer in 1998 used 35 watts of electricity in sleep mode, but today’s iMac has reduced that number to 0.9 watts in sleep mode.
In a letter on Apple’s website, Lisa Jackson, VP for Apple’s Environmental Initiatives and former head of the U.S. EPA, also focused on highlighting Apple’s environmental achievements, stating that the company has “reduced the average total power consumed by Apple products by 57 percent since 2008.” [source]
Jackson went on the say that Apple “aim[s] to create not just the best products in the world, but the best products for the world. […] For example, every one of our data centers is powered entirely by clean sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal energy.” [source]
[image by Leaflet]
Examples of progress
Data centers powered by 100% renewable energy
Maiden, North Carolina
- Earned the LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Building Council
- 60-100% of the renewable energy is generated onsite with biogas fuel cells and 40 megawatts of solar panels (any additional energy is purchased from clean sources)
- Building a micro-hydro system that will launch in 2014 and power most of the center’s energy needs
- Currently purchases enough wind energy to power the entire data center
- Currently powered by purchased geothermal energy
- Development for an 18-20 watt solar array (with innovative curved mirrors to concentrate sunlight) is underway; expected solar operation is set for 2015
The next step
The next step in Apple’s green energy efforts is to spread beyond its corporate sites and data centers to its retail stores.
Apple is also cooking up a new campus in Cupertino to be powered by 100% renewable energy, strategically landscaped to use less water, and more accessible through commute alternative programs.
Learn more about the new campus on the Apple website.