Yeah, yeah, I know, Apple, like any other large corporation, has its' share of detractors and has committed its' share of sins. I'm certainly not thrilled about them participating in this "tax holiday" lobbying effort, and there have been concerns about the suicide rate at one of their biggest suppliers, FoxConn in China.
However, they also have a long history of progressive activism, from donating money to fight Prop 8 in California to making their products as environmentally-friendly as possible by using as much glass & aluminum as they can, minimizing their packaging, and generally keeping their total carbon footprint as low as possible from start to finish.
Plus, you know, having Al Gore on their Board of Directors, which I'm sure has influenced much of the above--including their latest move.
Take a look at the following presentation by Steve Jobs to the Cupertino City Council about Apple's plans for a new, massive campus, and I think you'll see what I'm talking about:
It runs a bit long (about 20 minutes including the Q&A session), but it's well worth watching.
For those who want just the facts:
Design will include a courtyard in the middle and curved glass all the way around.
--Jobs is planning on transforming an area that’s 20% landscaping to 80% landscaping by putting most of the building’s parking underground.
--There are 3,700 trees in the area at the moment, Jobs has hired an arborist from Stanford to take the area up to 6,000 trees.
--The plan is to build a four-story high building and four-story parking structure.
[important because this means no towering skyscraper causing radio interference, blocking sunlight, etc.]
The campus will incude an energy center, and natural gas* will be the primary source of power, using the grid as backup.
--There will be an auditorium, fitness center and some R & D buildings.
--Jobs plans a 40% increase in Apple employees going from 9,500 today to 13,000 in 2015.
--He wants to increase the campus’ space 20% from 2.6 million to 3.1 million square feet.
--Landscaping will increase 60% from 3,700 to 6,000.
--Surface parking will decrease 90% from 9,800 to 1,200.
--The building footprint will decrease 30% from 1.4 million to 1 million.
--Cafeterias will fit 3,000 people at a sitting.
--The whole building will be designed with the utmost concern for employee safety.
--Apple currently has 20 buses running on bio-diesel fuel for its employees and Jobs thinks that system will work well with the new campus.
Now, I'm hardly unbiased here; I'm a long-time Mac user, and I do own a few shares of Apple stock. However, this development should bring a smile to the face of anyone who's looking for that oh-so-rare example of a HugeMegaCorp® actually giving a shit about the environment and the quality of life of both its' employees and the people in the surrounding community.
*Update: As noted by JamesGG below, it is a bit surprising that they're going with natural gas for the internal power generation instead of solar or wind. I'm certain they considered both of those, but if it's a low-lying area, there might not be enough wind in the area.
The lack of solar is surprising as well, but again, I have no idea what other factors may be involved. It's possible that the amount of acreage that would be required by the solar panels would be better used for trees and other greenery (which, after all, eliminate CO2).
Even within sunny areas, the best places for solar panels are areas where there's nothing useful there anyway (ie, either deserts or rooftops).
If the building had one gigantic circular roof that stretched all the way over it, I'd agree that solar would've been the way to go, but given that the inside is a big courtyard (filled with trees/etc), doing it this way also makes sense. I'm no expert on these issues, of course; perhaps the angle would be wrong for maximum solar efficiency or whatever. If you know more about such things, feel free to add your 2¢ below...