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Yes, I'm aware of Apple's corporate sins: Foxconn labor issues, keeping billions out of the U.S. to avoid paying taxes, etc.

But they also deserve props when they do the right thing, and today's a day for some serious props:

Apple's Data Centers Now Running on 100% Renewable Energy, Corporate Facilities at 75%

Bloomberg notes that Apple has posted the 2012 update of its environmental policy pages, noting that the company has now achieved 100% renewable energy usage at all of its data centers. On a worldwide basis, the company's corporate facilities are now running on 75% renewable energy, up from 35% just two years ago.

Our goal is to power every facility at Apple entirely with energy from renewable sources — solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal. So we’re investing in our own onsite energy production, establishing relationships with suppliers to procure renewable energy off the grid, and reducing our energy needs even as our employee base grows.

Our investments are paying off. We’ve already achieved 100 percent renewable energy at all of our data centers, at our facilities in Austin, Elk Grove, Cork, and Munich, and at our Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino. And for all of Apple’s corporate facilities worldwide, we’re at 75 percent, and we expect that number to grow as the amount of renewable energy available to us increases. We won’t stop working until we achieve 100 percent throughout Apple.

Ironically, the company's overall carbon emissions--including the manufacture, transportation and actual usage of the products and packaging--have actually gone up 34%, but that's mostly due to their sales continuing to grow (obviously, if you produce 100 widgets this year and 200 next year, your total emissions are still going to go up even if you cut emissions by 20% per widget).

According to the report, since 2008, Apple has actually decreased the amount of greenhouse gasses it emits per dollar of revenue by 21.5 percent, so there's that (yeah, I know, I'm not entirely sure that's a fair measurement to go by either, but it's something).

Anyway, I'm not expecting this to turn everyone into an Apple fanboy, but we bitch about huge corporations when they're Evil, so it behooves us to give a pat on the back when they Do the Right Thing as well. With $140 billion sitting in the bank, it's not like Apple has to give a shit what anyone says, so good on them for following through with this commitment.

In addition, this news has a larger significance in terms of the Corporate Mindset, in the same way that CostCo's recent announcement of record-breaking profits was. Just like it's conventional wisdom within the corporate/Wall Street crowd that you have to fuck over your employees in order to keep high profits, it's also conventional wisdom that you can't have environmentally sound business practices and still keep your profits high.

CostCo proves the former mindset wrong, and Apple proves the latter one wrong.

For that matter, Apple's obsession with minimalism/miniturization wasn't just a personal quirky obsession of Steve Jobs; it's also helped them become a more environmentally-friendly company and helped their bottom line at the same time, in ways you wouldn't normally think about. For example, Jobs loved all-in-ones, so he mushed together the monitor, computer, speakers etc. into one for the iMac, reducing the amount of materials, cabling, packaging and transporation space/weight per PC accordingly.

He also hated the old, clunky, heavy CRTs, so as soon as LCDs became affordable enough, Apple became the first computer maker to ditch the CRT, thus further cutting down on transporation fuel costs, packaging materials, etc.

Once the Mac App Store opened up, Apple stopped carrying most of their software as physical, boxed CD/DVDs in their retail stores, further reducing packaging materials, fuel costs, etc. Over the past year or so they've started ditching the CD/DVD itself, moving everything into Cloud-based/downloadable storage and delivery...using the very data centers that now use 100% renewable energy.

Point being, of course, that they've done all of this, vastly improving their environmental standing, while also making gobs of massive profits, to the point that they literally don't know what to do with all that money (of course, as I noted at the start of this diary, if they really want to become Corporate Saints, they could bring $40 billion or so of that overseas cash back home and pay some taxes with it, which would single-handedly fill in a huge chunk of the Sequester, but that's a separate diary...)

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Comment Preferences

  •  With Steve Jobs gone (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Apple will coast for a while on his 21st century achievements, but then inevitably degenerate into just another stock-driven hack company the way it did the last time he wasn't involved.  When that happens, I would bet they'll quietly go back to using whatever energy resources are cheapest, but it won't matter because they'll become irrelevant.

    I demand that you prove you're alive.

    by Troubadour on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 06:46:22 PM PDT

    •  Not necessarily. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, jazzmaniac

      As you said, they'll continue to kick ass for another couple of years based on pure Jobsian momentum; the question will be, how will they fare once the last of his magic pixie dust fades out.

      However, there was a lot of discussion of this by the various tech writers/bloggers, and the conclusion of some of the more savvy ones (John Gruber and John Siracusa in particular, I believe) was that Jobs' greatest creation wasn't any particular product, but Apple itself--that is, that he managed to infuse the entire corporation with his own philosophy without them becoming a slave to it, bla bla bla (hopefully without his dickishness, though, I hope).

      Only way to know will be to wait another couple of years and see.

      •  I would put the timeline more at 5 years. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brainwrap, Odysseus

        They can keep iterating the iPad and iPhone and milking Jobs' innovations that long, as long as no other charismatic visionary arises to usurp Apple's place in that time.  

        But ultimately the same dynamic plays out that did with respect to PCs usurping Macintosh in the '90s - the "good enough" clones advance to the point that the high prices of Apple products are no longer justifiable.  Also, without that singular, tyrannical vision constantly pushing the envelope, a mere collection of Jobs disciples can't create the same level of highly-integrated aesthetic "magic."  Apple the company is not capable of maintaining Apple the religion.

        What usually happens when a beloved, charismatic tyrant is lost to the institutions they created around their own personality is that the first caretakers try to mimic them, seeking to capture the same magic with cargo cult efforts.  It rarely works very well, so then they become pragmatic and start letting new leaders be who they are, which invariably falls far short of the founder.  As the magic fades, mediocrity feeds back on itself, allowing increasingly pragmatic decisions that further erode the original standards.

        Steve Jobs didn't build a business - a business wouldn't have done what Apple did under his leadership, because it was always risky and required a level of faith in aesthetic sensibilities that had nothing to do with hard, focus group-driven data.  What he built was an amplifier for his personal vision - a tool that will invariably prove either unwieldy or unflattering to his successors.  

        I demand that you prove you're alive.

        by Troubadour on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 07:16:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well said, and you could be correct... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The biggest difference this time around, as far as I can tell, is that Apple is now sitting on a SHITLOAD of money and goodwill, which will buy them a lot more time to change course if they do find themselves in the same position they were in in the early '90's.

          I mentioned Siracusa above--here's an interesting piece of his on the relative positions of Apple, Google and Samsung at the moment.

          Note how Microsoft has become, effectively, irrelevant since the iOS/Android war started a few years back, even though they're still making buckets of dough themselves.. Can Apple avoid the same fate? Let's hope.

    •  So Steve Jobs did everything? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brainwrap, craiger

      With all due respect to the thousands of Apple designers, engineers and the staff that support them, and to all of the people working for companies that partner with Apple and supply a lot of technology, ideas and work, I have to disagree with everything you say above.

      Steve Jobs was not a God. And the above people I mention are not useless, clueless idiots or lazy slackers.

      Really, you are so wrong.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:34:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The difference between Apple and some no-name (0+ / 0-)

        hardware company is not that its designers, engineers, and staff are more talented.  There's a specific vision.

        I demand that you prove you're alive.

        by Troubadour on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 12:17:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exclusively vested in Jobs? (0+ / 0-)

          Sorry, I don't buy that. I can't say too much here, but assure you:

          (a) Jobs was good in many ways, but not a God

          (b) One of the ways he was good was to amplify what came from below, including the vision thing; master appropriator

          (c) Left Apple in better shape than he found it

          (d) Left it in good hands

          But don't take my word for it, take Jobs' parting advice to Tim Cook & Co:
          "Don't ask 'What would Steve do'".

          If you think he was bright and knew what he was doing, you can consider why he said that.

          People expecting Apple or any company to bat 1.000 all the time will be sorely disappointed because things run in cycles.

          They will no doubt go up and down, but suggesting a long decline into mediocrity is a bit premature, and faith-based thinking.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Sat Mar 23, 2013 at 03:00:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  why would it be cheaper (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brainwrap, koNko

      to go back to unrenewable energy?

      the hard part's done.
      kudos apple, a decade late, but modelling the future for all.

      why? just kos..... *just cause*

      by melo on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 03:27:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "props" - I don't know props. What would that be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in old people english?

    What I do know a little about is RECS (Renewable Energy Credits), and buying recs to meet renewable standards is still the lazy way of taking credit for going green.

    Apple is putting lots of electronic stuff out there to people who don't care about power source, energy efficiency, etc. Everyone is, and everyone talks the same talk as Apple. And if all of it was true --- well it still isn't.
    But they do get brownie points for being on the right side.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 06:52:59 PM PDT

    •  Props = Brownie Points (0+ / 0-)

      But that's the point--Apple really is making good on their promise; they started doing so shortly after (surprise, surprise) Al Gore joined their board of directors.

      Of course, everything is a trade-off. Dumping CRTs in favor of LCDs meant 1/5 the physical materials, 1/5 the transporation fuel, 1/3 the packaging materials, etc...but it also meant using more exotic, toxic materials such as beryllium, chromium and antimony.

      On the other hand, the more information that iPads, iPhones etc. move online, the less need for physical materials. I'm no fan of eBooks myself (I'll always prefer to curl up with an actual paper book than a Kindle), but the electricity needed to download and display a 300 page book on an iPad for a few hours is, I would imagine, far less than the carbon footprint needed to chop down a tree, process the wood pulp into paper, run it through a printing press, bind it and ship it to a bookstore. Hard to say, really.

      •  Apple has found great answers for Apple. I still (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        hope that their answers prove to be universally great. And I readily admit both that this is not really their responsibility, and much to ask of any profit driven enterprise.

        There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

        by oldpotsmuggler on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 07:27:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Oldpot, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I agree.  These data centers use the same amount of power of a small city and one of the biggest energy wasters in these buildings is the cooling required to keep the chips from failing and inefficient servers that aren't programmed to shut off when not in use.  

      Apple, facebook, Microsoft, and Google who are touting their new green data centers should use their influence to get chip manufacturers to produce chips that run at higher temperatures and server manufacturers that make a more efficient server.

      Everything else is a gimic.

  •  Do they get tax credits for doing this? n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Energy source (0+ / 0-)

    They obviously get their power from a methane digester fed by the endless supply of bullsh*t coming from their regular "new" product launches.

    "Who stood against President Obama in 2012?" - The trivia question nobody can answer.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 09:16:31 PM PDT

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