Apple is a lot greener than it used to be, the company said today.
The iPhone and Mac maker published a new annual environmental report this morning that tracks some of the improvements it has made. The key takeaway: 75 percent of the energy it needs at its corporate facilities is renewable, and the number is even higher at some of its data centers and its headquarters.
"We're committed to greening the grid wherever we have our facilities," Scott Brodrick of Apple's product marketing, told CNET.
The company currently has data centers in Maiden, N.C., and Newark, Calif., and is constructing an additional center in Prineville, Ore., that will run off a mix of energy sources. Apple is also working on a facility in Reno, Nev., though Brodrick would not say when that would be up and running.
These facilities are part of Apple's growing cloud services effort. These data centers have long served up digital content like music, movies, and apps. In 2011, the company added to that load with iCloud, its storage and sync service, which relies on the data centers to store user data and information. The data centers also play a role in powering Siri, the voice-assistant feature found on iPhones, iPods, and iPads.
The Maiden location in particular has quickly become the crown jewel of Apple's data center operations, and has been running on entirely renewable energy sources since last December, Brodrick said. Part of the reason for that is its solar array, which the company touts as the largest of its kind in the U.S. and is promoting in a video:
Among some of the other progress it made last year, Apple says it's now using bio-gas fuel cells along with solar photovoltaic technology at its headquarters. It's also greened some of its products including the newest iMac, which uses 68 percent less material than the previous model. There's also the AirPort Express wireless router, which Apple says uses bio-based polymers.
Even with Apple's progress, the company has not been without its critics. Greenpeace in particular went after Apple hard last year as part of its campaign to bring awareness to the greenness of data centers. It also knocked Apple for transparency on its progress as part of its 18th annual "Guide to Greener Electronics" which was published last November.
"Apple's announcement shows that it has made real progress in its commitment to lead the way to a clean energy future," the group said in a statement today. "Apple's increased level of disclosure about its energy sources helps customers know that their iCloud will be powered by clean energy sources, not coal."
Nonetheless, Greenpeace urged for more disclosure from Apple in any dealings with local utilities and state governments.
"Over the past four years we've reported more comprehensively than any company in our industry, and we've done this by focusing not only on our facilities, which is what many other companies do, but also on our products," Brodrick offered.
Update, 11:30 a.m. PT: Adds statement from Greenpeace.… Read more
Super Stickman Golf 2 (99 cents) is a 2D golf game that is definitely a worthy sequel to the original with new levels, new special course elements, and much more. It's really easy to pick up and play, with tons of fantastical themed courses, interesting power-ups, and excellent physics-based gameplay. Though the game has a huge amount of arcadelike features, the goal is always the same: try to get the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible. The challenge is that it can be much harder than it looks.
Rather than your standard 3D layout seen … Read more
Silicon Valley firms are presenting a rare united front in an effort to end a political logjam that has blocked high-tech immigration reform.
In an unusual show of support that underscores how important the topic has become, executives from Facebook, Google, eBay and other major tech companies sent a letter today to President Obama and congressional leaders asking them to fix immigration law by the end of 2013. The current system is broken, they say, blaming visa shortages, long waits for green cards, and difficulties bringing spouses and children to the United States.
"Because our current immigration system is … Read more
We're big on small tools that let us convert video clips into different formats that we can play on our various and sundry devices. Ditto audio: while we tend to save music in the highest available quality, we also like to be able to play MP3s on the go, and software that can convert both audio files and video formats to other audio formats is of no small interest, too. One more thing: freeware, please. Green Free Video Converter just happens to cover all those bases. It's free, it's easy to use, and it converts files to … Read more
A lot of people like to do some of their banking on their mobile devices, but one company says the smartphone isn't just for checking balances.
Green Dot thinks the device can be the entire bank.
With the launch today of GoBank, Green Dot -- a major player in reloadable prepaid cards -- is betting that an all-new FDIC-insured bank, built from scratch and designed for mobile devices, could be just what people disgruntled with their Chase or Bank of America experience are looking for.
GoBank was built to be fast, secure, and uncomplicated, said Sam Altman, executive vice … Read more
Windows 8 has its fans and foes, but Microsoft felt the time was ripe for a new look and feel for a product used by more than 1.2 billion people.
Julie Larson-Green, the new head of Windows product development, recently spoke with MIT Technology Review about the reasons behind the major changes in the latest version of Windows.
Touting the new Windows 8 Start screen, Larson-Green said that in the past Windows users worked at a desktop with a monitor. In her view, people typically launched one window, put it away, and then launched another window. But in Windows … Read more
Bike riding is already a more environmentally conscious pursuit than driving around in a car, but you can really take it to the green extreme with a bike made from 100-percent-recycled aluminum. ReCycle is working at raising funds on Kickstarter to put its first full run of bikes into production.
There are some nice design tweaks that make the ReCycle bikes stand out. The usual seat tube support is gone. Two of the models have belts rather than chains. The eco-friendly aspects go beyond the use of recycled aluminum. The bikes also have saddles and grips made from cork. … Read more
The more data centers are built, the more power is consumed.
The more power is consumed, the more people rely on that power.
The more we rely on the grid, the more chance there is, perhaps, that something will go wrong.
The more we become reliant on the cloud, such a calamity will annoy more people who are desperate to, um, watch Netflix or stare at Instagram.
Microsoft doesn't want to risk taking any verbal dung from you on such matters, so it announced today that it is building a data center powered by, well, waste matter.
Yes, your Microsoft cloud uploads could soon be powered by your own personal downloads. … Read more
Imagine yourself as a little fish swimming far below the surface of the sea, just trying to make it in a big blue world. Suddenly, a horizon-encompassing net grabs you and takes you away from everything you once knew. Things go from bad to worse as the commercial fishing net rises and the pressure change kills you.
This fate, which often befalls millions of smaller non-target fish around the world every year, could change with the invention of the sustainable SafetyNet, which today was named winner of the prestigious 2012 James Dyson Award for design. … Read more