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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...

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Comment Preferences

  •  A little disappointed in this: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brainwrap, bronte17
    The campus will incude an energy center, and natural gas will be the primary source of power, using the grid as backup.

    Why not cover whatever open roof surfaces they can with solar panels, and put some wind generators in where they get gusts? Natural gas isn't the way forward.

    •  I was surprised by that as well, but... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NorthCacalakaGirlForBO

      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 completely, but given that the inside is a big courtyard (filled with trees/etc), this also makes sense.

      •  but those buildings have roofs: what's on 'em? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        trumpeter

        Natgas is only the cleanest of the fossil fuels, but CO2 is CO2 and from that perspective it would have been better to install a Hyperion micro-nuke.  http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/...

        But in any case there's no excuse for not covering the roofs they do have, with photovoltaics.  There's a big solar company that advertises on dKos, someone ought to put Apple in touch with them.  

  •  Cool, but what about traffic? (0+ / 0-)

    I live reasonably close to this new facility and the freeway on ramps and street traffic will likely get bad.  Steve didn't mention that Apple will probably not close the other peripheral buildings near the old campas, so this will likely keep growing.  I'm not complaining too much, without Cisco, Google, Apple and Intel and a few other companies, Silicon Valley would be mostly sand.

    "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength", George Orwell, "1984" -7.63 -5.95

    by dangoch on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 06:59:42 AM PDT

    •  Actually, he did address this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NorthCacalakaGirlForBO

      He specifically said that they aren't shutting the old buildings down; they're keeping both campuses open.

      He did say that they're only anticipating a 20% total employee increase to the area for now.

      Of course it'll probably keep growing, but what're ya gonna do? Presumably they'll address that in the future--in fact, as he said, this move will let more of their employees bike to work instead of driving, which reduces the traffic.

      •  Ride their bike from where? (0+ / 0-)

        These campuses aren't that far apart and I can't imagine that the people driving to work are going to be that much closer to the new campus.

        I refuse to represent my political beliefs using numbers. It isn't accurate, nor is it helpful. But I'm around a -10 on both scales.

        by AoT on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 09:40:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I know the old campus will still remain open (0+ / 0-)

          but I suspect they will close various peripheral Apple buildings near old campus.  They did that when they built the new campus, but reopened them as time went by.

          "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength", George Orwell, "1984" -7.63 -5.95

          by dangoch on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 09:38:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  tipped and rec'd (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brainwrap

    thank you good eco news is good.  :)

    33 senior citizens paying over $6k more in Medicare costs to pay for 1 millionaire/billionaire’s tax cut.Not on my watch...president Obama.

    by NorthCacalakaGirlForBO on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 07:32:35 AM PDT

  •  Natural Gas is the fuel for cogeneration plants... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brainwrap

    ...which generate electric power on site, and use the waste heat to warm the buildings or provide process heat for manufacturing.

    I understand that Google has a pretty large solar array spread over a parking lot. It provides shade for cars but the power is only used to recharge electric vehicles.

    It's naive to think that a major corporation would or even could go 100% solar in an urban location with current technology. 13,000 employees under one roof require a LOT of juice.

    It appears that the architect will be British star Norman Foster. His firm is know for high-tech buildings with highly engineered passive heating & cooling features.

    Just providing a large cafeteria, to eliminate off campus trips will be a significant carbons offset.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 07:59:28 AM PDT

  •  Ambitious project (0+ / 0-)

    I wonder if they'll import some of the slave labor they use in China to keep costs down.

    Harboring resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.

    by The Red Pen on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 09:22:03 AM PDT

  •  I am curious (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brainwrap

    about water usage and what kind of plants will be included in the landscaping.

    I know Cupertino is not as desertified as here (San Diego), but I really hope they are going to be using native plants.

    I am still learning, but the teachers often suck.

    by trumpeter on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 10:20:59 AM PDT

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