Friday, 24 February 2012

 In its Facilities Report and Environmental Update, Apple not only details the company’s 2011 environmental footprint, it also includes information about its new eco-friendly data center in the previously unknown town of Maiden, North Carolina.
The report
Reports like this, which cover a bevy of environment-related items, have been released by Apple for a while now. One of this year’s highlights is Apple’s full life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions. The company reports that 98% of its total emissions are from greenhouse gas emitted from the production, transport, use, and recycling of its products, with its corporate facilities representing the remaining 2%.
Do a majority of people care to know this sort of information? It’s debatable. Is it impressive once you see it? Certainly.
But impressing the environmentally-concerned Apple faithful is not the reason why the company performs these annual “green” audits. Rather, the company recognizes itself as an industry leader, and believes that reports like this hold it accountable for the environmental impact of its everyday operations around the globe.
Apple even has an environmental, health, and safety management system in place to ensure ongoing compliance with regulations and standards across its facilities. This is all part of the company’s goal of one day achieving a net zero energy program for all of its corporate facilities.
So how’d they do in 2011?
Covering the study in broad strokes (there’s a link at the bottom of the article to the full report), Apple’s global facilities consumed approximately 493 million kWh of electricity and 3 million therms of natural gas. The company states that it successfully avoided nearly 30 million kilograms of CO2 emissions by way of its renewable energy programs, which includes reducing the environmental impact of home-to-work travel via the company’s implementation of commuter transit programs, and reducing water usage / solid waste per employee.
Maiden, N.C.: Home to Apple’s new “green” data center
Also in this year’s report are details surrounding Apple’s new data center in Maiden, N.C. This is worth pointing out because it is expected to be one of the most energy efficient data centers ever built.
Approximately 100-acres of North Carolina real estate is being used for the 20-megawatt facility, which is expected to turn out 42 million kWh of clean, renewable energy every year. The site will also include the nation’s largest, end user-owned, on-site solar array, surrounding the center entirely. 
 That’s not all, though. There are plenty of other eco-friendly technologies also worth pointing out:
• A chilled water storage system to improve chiller efficiency by transferring 10,400 kWh of electricity consumption from peak to off-peak hours each day.
• Use of “free” outside air cooling through a waterside economizer operation during night and cool-weather hours which, along with water storage, allows the chillers to be turned off more than 75% of the time.
• Extreme precision in managing cooling distribution for cold-air containment pods, with variable-speed fans controlled to exactly match air flow to server requirements from moment to moment.
• Power distributed at higher voltages, which increases efficiency by reducing power loss.
• White cool-roof design to provide maximum solar reflectivity.
• High-efficiency LED lighting combined with motion sensors.
• Real-time power monitoring and analytics during operations.
Facility construction processes used 14% recycled materials, diverted 93% of construction waste from landfills, and sourced 41% of purchased materials from within 500 miles of the site.
What’s more, Apple is also including a fuel cell installation that, when it goes online later in the year, will be the largest non-utility fuel cell installation operating anywhere in the country. The 5-megawatt facility, located right next to the data center, will be powered by 100% bio-gas and provide more than 40 million kWh of 24x7 baseload renewable energy annually.
Already seeing reawards
Apple’s new data center was recently awarded the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its energy efficiency. The certificate itself is based on the building design’s environmental performance; it is the highest rating that the Council gives out for new projects.

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