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Apple and the Environment
I recently ran across a news report (no web link here--I read this stuff so you don't have to) criticizing Apple for "barely" achieving LEED certification for its retail stores. The writer specifically attributed the low certification ranking on its failure to earn points in Sustainable Sites and Water Efficiency because Apple stores don't include significant landscaping. Shocked but savvy readers commented that most Apple stores are in malls and suggested that, in the future, "Apple should rent out the adjacent stores in the mall and install a lawn."
It's just that stupid! We'd love all buildings to reach for Platinum, but really, LEED certification is a worthy achievement. If every retail store were LEED certified, think of the energy and emissions we'd save and the benefit to our planet. Hey USGBC, maybe you can run those numbers.
Looking at Apple's big picture, the company's environmental footprint includes its entire lifecycle from extraction of raw materials through end of life and includes facilities, which by the way, account for very little. As they acknowledge, "the vast majority of our carbon emissions come from the manufacturing, transportation, use, and recycling of our products. The rest--3 percent--comes from our facilities."
Substantive achievements include eliminating many toxic substances, such as arsenic, brominated flame retardants (BFRs), mercury, phthalates, and PVC, from a majority of its product line, reducing the size of products to use less material and packaging, reduced energy consumption ("every single Apple product not only meets but exceeds the United States Environmental Protection Agency's strict Energy Star guidelines for efficiency. Apple is the only company in the industry that can make this claim."), a robust recycling program and facilities in Austin, Texas, Sacramento, California, and Cork, Ireland that are 100 percent powered by renewable energy.
One of the best environmental steps a company can take is disclosure and transparency. In 2009, Apple took the unprecedented step of reporting its entire carbon footprint and methodology, verified through an independent LCA. Take a look; you'll be impressed.
Yeah, I'm a big Apple fan, even without efficient landscaping.