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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Apple's New HQ Could Be 'Greenest Building on the Planet,' CEO Says

Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed last week that his company’s new headquarters in Cupertino, California would be the “greenest building on the planet.”

Speaking at Climate Week NYC, when asked about Apple’s efforts to reduce its impact throughout its supply chain, CEO Tim Cook reportedly said: “We’re building a new headquarters that will, I think, be the greenest building on the planet. It’ll be a center for innovation, and it’s something clearly our employees want and we want. Apple at its roots has a very core value of leaving the world a better place than we found it.”

Those are standards that are pretty hard to live up to, but the company is making ambitious plans to try to make it happen, as evidenced by the details Apple shared with Business Insider on its environmental sustainability commitment and design plans for Apple Campus 2.

Rather than just focusing on the sustainability of the finished structure, the tech giant is also focusing efforts on the construction and design aspects — which can notoriously be carbon-intensive and environmentally damaging.

Apple is putting a key emphasis on reuse of old materials. By Cupertino law, construction sites are mandated to use 75 percent of materials recycled from prior demolition; Apple claims to be greatly surpassing this requirement by reusing 90 percent of its old headquarters for Campus 2.

As expected with such a colossal structure, its headquarters will require a lot of concrete, which is inherently carbon-intensive to make. So instead of packing this in from elsewhere, the technology giant has set up an onsite recycling unit to recycle all of it as cement for the new build.

Once inside the new HQ, the energy efficiencies are set to be impressive: Apple claims its buildings will use on average 30 percent less energy than analogous Research and Development centers. With natural ventilation within the building for 75 percent of the year, the company’s heating and cooling costs will be significantly reduced.

An enormous ring-shaped building, aptly nicknamed “the mother ship,” the structure will reportedly add 2,800,000 square feet to the company’s office space in its Cupertino operations, and hold over 12,000 employees. The building is set to be opened in 2016 after at least a year’s delay and US$2 billion overspend in its budget.

The HQ will not lack for scope, and Apple claims that 80 percent of this will be open space for its employees to enjoy and absorb. Such a large campus, however, presents problems for getting from A to B. To address this, Apple plans to install over 300 electric vehicle charging stations. It’s also planting more than 7,000 trees on campus as a place for its employees to relax in a more natural setting.

Apple claims that any power that the building does use will come from 100 percent renewable sources. It’s not quite clear though whether this will come directly from solar and wind provision, or merely the purchase of renewable energy certificates (pledges of a commitment to renewables). The company has put significant focus on powering its data centers through new renewable energy facilities — in July, the company announced its plan to build a new 17.5MW solar-farm in Claremont, NC to keep up with its commitment to power the iCloud with 100 percent renewables.

Since taking over from Steve Jobs, many have been impressed with Cook’s apparent commitment to environmental sustainability, as illustrated in the company’s recent “Better” campaign.

“I have a nephew that I dearly love that’s 10, and when I look at him, and when I think of leaving a world that’s not as good as when I entered it, there’s no bigger sin than that,” he said. “That’s an Apple value, that’s our corporate values. We’re going to do everything we can to leave the world a better place than we found it,” Cook told the International Business Times.

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