Apple has just been labeled “the most innovative and most aggressive” company in Silicon Valley when it comes to setting and attaining environmental goals. The praise comes from Greenpeace which has recognised, in its report, the company’s ongoing environmental efforts and its excellent clean energy index rating.
Technology products and services accounted for about 2 per cent of worldwide emissions in 2012, roughly the same as the airline industry, according to statistics cited by Greenpeace. Some of biggest electricity demands come from huge data centres that house the stacks of computers that process search requests, store photos and email and stream video.
As the world’s largest technology company, it seems that Apple is trying to hatch more environmental solutions than problems. The company is working towards a very ambitious goal: powering all of its facilities with 100% renewable energy. And, it seems that the company is well on its way to meeting this goal. In 2010, the company was powering its corporate campuses and data centers with about 35% renewable power, but the company is currently pushing that number to about 94%.
Green retail stores and data centres
Apple's VP of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson says that 2014 is the year that Cupertino, California-based Apple will prioritise the expansion of green energy in its retail outlets.
Nearly half of Apple's 254 retail stores in the US— including flagship locations in Palo Alto, Chicago, and New York — are said to be powered entirely by energy from renewable sources.
Most of Apple's retail stores are located in shopping malls, so the company must work alongside utility providers who do not always offer green options.
Apple does have a history of success in such negotiations, however. Lobbying efforts from Apple (as well as Google and Facebook) are credited with forcing major US utility Duke Energy to adopt a clean energy purchase program from which Apple draws power for its Maiden, N.C. datacenter.
Data centers are said to be an area of growth in the industry and Apple is clearly already emerging as a leader among tech companies.
In addition to its retail and datacenter goals, Apple is also making efforts to revamp its supply chain. The company has re-evaluated the way it accounts for the emissions generated by the mining of aluminum, for instance.
A leader but much to do
Apple is certainly taking a leading role in terms of being environmentally conscious with its use of renewable energy at datacenter locations, the lack of harmful toxins used in its manufacturing processes and the amount of electricity its products use.
However, the company recognises that there is still a great deal to be done. While US-based servers might be running off wind and solar energy, the vast factories in China, that actually manufacture iPhones and iMacs, are not.