By Katherine Leversee
Have you heard? Apple, Inc. has a new tag line: “Bigger picture. Better products. Smaller impact.”
“Apple is going renewable! This is a natural progression since they have already shown to be diligent and conscientious about their energy use and energy efficiency.” – Nancy Rae Mallery, publisher, Green Energy Times
Apple, Inc. has set a goal of a net zero energy plan for all corporate facilities worldwide. To qualify as “net zero”, each facility would need to produce, on-site, all of the energy needed to power that facility, and to achieve this Apple rewrote their energy policy. It begins with ensuring that all facilities are as energy efficient as possible. Next is a focus on self-sustainability by generating as much clean, renewable energy as possible on-site at their facilities. Any remaining energy needs are met with clean, renewable energy generated elsewhere, preferably within the same state or grid where a facility operates. In addition to making a “greener” Apple this will positively influence local renewable energy development.
In 2009 Apple, Inc. released a report calculating their total carbon footprint as a company. They have released similar reports every year since and the trend is decidedly towards the green end of the spectrum, with improvements every year. Apple monitors its energy use and is making changes in the way they: design, manufacture and transport their products; recycle their waste and run their corporate and manufacturing facilities. Undeniably an innovator in the tech industry Apple has been consciously crafting the way it works as a company, affects communities and impacts the planet. This is making some visible changes. Until recently the operations at Apple facilities relied heavily on coal for the generation of electricity. Greenpeace called the corporation on this fact by giving it exceedingly low – and even failing – marks across the board for energy transparency (“D”), infrastructure siting (“F”), energy efficiency (“D”) and renewables and advocacy (“D”). Demonstrations were held in front of some Apple operations centers in protest of their use of coal and the message seems to have penetrated Apple to the core.
Several of Apple’s facilities allegedly already operate on 100 percent renewable energy resources, including facilities in Cork, Ireland; Munich, Germany; Austin, Texas; and Elk Grove, California. Apple’s main data center in Maiden, North Carolina will join that list by the end of this year, running on bio-gas fuel cells and solar power from what will be, when completed, the largest private solar array in the country. Data centers that still use coal are scheduled to run exclusively on renewables by the end of 2013.
According to their website the tech giant “learned that about 98 percent of Apple’s carbon footprint is directly related to our products. The remaining 2 percent is related to our facilities.” Consequently, Apple claims to be designing and building products that will last longer, use fewer materials in their construction, ship in recycled packaging when possible and be recyclable at the end of the products’ useful life. Apple appears committed to creating products that have the least impact on the environment by using non-toxic materials and generating less waste.
Though Apple’s profits and production have increased, the company’s greenhouse gas emissions per dollar of revenue has dropped by almost 16 percent since 2008. The company plans to continue pursuing cleaner, smaller and more efficient products and to implement environmentally conscious operations into the future. Stay tuned: nothing is too big to be green.
Apple claims it will be able to generate 124 million kilowatt-hours of power annually when all of its current renewable energy initiatives are functioning.
Apple will generate 60 percent of the energy needed by the Maiden, North Carolina facility using bio gas fuel cells and a 100-acre solar farm.
A filing with the North Carolina Utilities C ommission about the Maiden solar array states “Each of the photovoltaic installations will consist of multiple SunPower E20 435-watt photovoltaic modules on ground-mounted single axis tracking systems,” Sunpower is a San Jose, California based energy company.
Apple is purchasing a 150-acre site two miles from the Maiden facility to use as an install site for more solar panels Apple’s electronics recycling programs have diverted more than 115,500 metric tons of equipment from landfills since 1994.
For more information on Apple’s green initiatives, visit www.apple.com/ environment/
Katherine Leversee has worked with Green Energy Times since 2011. She is a graduate of Ithaca College and lives in Keene, New Hampshire. When not writing articles or pursuing sponsors for G.E.T, she spends a lot of her free time in her large garden, she likes to read the New Yorker, and she is happier when there is a cat in her life.
From the June, 2012, Green Energy Times