Apple’s data center in Reno, Nevada is made up of five huge white buildings lined up, side by side, on the dry land off I-80 with connecting corridors of quarter-mile long. This headquarters is gigantic, and it’s where Siri, iCloud, Apple Music, and Apple Pay lives. Their humble abode is 50 spacious, dark rooms that have 200,000 identical servers with blinking lights on their front panes.
Just imagine how much energy this massive data center needs. It requires a constant supply of power to work and to cool off. For Apple, it gets its uninterrupted energy source from its different solar farms.
Apple’s first solar farm is the Fort Churchill. It’s near Yerington town in Nevada where an empty, flat dry land lies, surrounded with rugged hills. From the main road, you’ll see long and seemingly endless lines of solar models with concave mirrors focusing on the sun’s direction.
The tech giant’s many other sources of renewable energy look similar to Churchill. The company’s massive data centers demand loads of uninterrupted power flow, and Apple was able to reach their goal to run all the computing machines on 100% renewable energy in 2014.
However, the 100% figure only pertains to the firm’s private operations. It doesn’t include the company’s suppliers and manufacturers, which do a significant portion of work when bringing ideas into life. However, Apple said it’s getting the rest of its facilities to work on green energy including its distribution centers and retail stores around the globe. The tech giant has also convinced 23 companies in its supply chain to use renewable energy on the parts of their business related to Apple products.
Over the past six years, the conglomerate has been financing and building renewable energy sources near the company’s facilities. They were able to establish 25 renewable energy projects in different parts of the world, and there are 15 more on-going constructions. From 16% eight years ago, Apple had 93% of their facilities running on 100% renewable energy by 2015. In just one year, they quickly increased the number to 96%.
Apple’s serious moves towards its green energy goals began in 2013 when the company hired Lisa Jackson as the VP of environment, policy, and social initiatives. Jackson is also the former EPA administrator. CEO Tim Cook put Jackson in the position, so she can focus on the company’s environmental projects and act as a representative to Washington, D.C.
“If you look at our trajectory, for the last couple of years we’ve been close to 100%,” Jackson said in a statement with Fast Company.
“It’s just four percent more, but it’s four percent done the right way. So this announcement feels like a classic Apple product release. Like our products, we sweat the details, we have pretty strict standards, and we prefer to wait and meet our standards than to rush and make a claim.”
Jackson is a chemical engineer from New Orleans. She talks unhurriedly, plainspoken, and is frank about what she has seen and done over the five years she’s worked with Apple.
Apple’s primary goal over the company’s 100% green energy venture lies in reducing harmful emissions from fuels. Since 2011, the company lowered its greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) by 58%. It’s equivalent to 2.2 million metric tons of CO2e preventing to reach the atmosphere. Apple’s attempts don’t end with numbers, though. The company has been urging places in establishing new solar and wind farms places by working with regulators and local utilities. According to Jackson, the multi-national prioritizes implementing its green energy ambitions in markets where the majority of power sources come from ecologically unfriendly such as coal or oil.
“It’s an approach that’s really important because you’re growing the clean energy market around you,” Jackson says.
Former Vice President Al Gore who is also Apple’s board member since 2003 believes the company is sending a message that going green can also be useful for business. “It is proving the business case that well-managed companies can reduce the greenhouse gases that are causing the climate crisis while simultaneously reducing their energy costs,” Al Gore said in a statement to Fast Company.
“Its efforts are transforming the way the tech sector uses power, both domestically and around the world.”