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Greenpeace takes Apple to task for data center pollution

updated 04:40 pm EDT, Thu April 21, 2011

NC center could 'triple' Apple power consumption

As part of a report (PDF) rating several high-tech companies, Greenpeace has made public a critical stance of Apple's cloud-based environmental impact. The "clean energy index" rating for Apple's data services is just 6.7 percent, versus the likes of 21 percent for Twitter, 36.4 percent for Google and 55.9 percent for Yahoo. Apple was also given a "coal intensity" rating of 54.5 percent, in theory making it the most intense polluter among the group because of relatively high power consumption versus its coal power dependence.

Each company in the report also has separate letter grades for transparency, infrastructure siting and mitigation. For the first category, Apple gets a C. "Although Apple has become increasingly transparent about the environmental footprint and operational performance of its products, especially laptops and iPhones, it has not been as forthcoming on the current or expected impacts of its online products," says Greenpeace. It notes that despite the importance of iTunes in online media, there is no data on associated environmental damage. Apple does, however, participate in the voluntary Carbon Disclosure Project.

The company's worst rating is an F for infrastructure siting. Greenpeace points to Apple's new data center, based in North Carolina, a state said to have one of the "dirtiest" electrical grids in the US by virtue of being 61 percent coal and 31 percent nuclear. Apple has a "lack of corporate commitment to clean energy supply," Greenpeace alleges, suggesting that because Virginia was an alternate location for the data center, Apple was more concerned with cheap energy than clean sources.

Mitigation gets the corporation another C. "Apple has reported a significant increase in the amount of clean energy it has purchased for its operations in the past two years, and has said that it will continue to look for sources of renewable energy and buy green power wherever it can be found," according to the report. "However, Apple has not declared a renewable energy or greenhouse gas target to shape this commitment. The massive [North Carolina] iDataCenter has estimated electricity demand (at full capacity) as high as triple Apple's current total reported electricity use, which will unfortunately have a significant impact on Apple's environmental footprint."

The North Carolina facility is valued at $1 billion, and set to open sometime this spring following delays. Apple has stated that the facility is intended for iTunes and MobileMe, backing numerous reports claiming that the company is interested in launching streaming and/or media locker services.

by MacNN Staff



  1. bjojade

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Because they chose to locate in North Carolina, and North Carolina uses coal and nuclear for their power sources, Greenpeace says it's Apple's fault? What a bunch of whackos.

    Power grids are interconnected. Companies often 'claim' the green power generated on grids even though they are shared with everyone else. I've decided that my company uses ONLY water powered electricity. I didn't do anything different, but I decided that the only power I use comes from there, and I can advertise that I've gone green without doing anything. It's a joke, really.

  1. sibeale1

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Zero impact

    ....and a perfect score for the buggy whip industry. (Psst!, They don't make anything.)

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969



    It's funny how sandal wearers can be most critical of the companies who are most sympathetic to their ideologies. Microsoft and HP getting better scores than Apple? Yeah... right. If I was a lentil junkie, i'd sooner spend time with Steve Jobs than Steve Ballmer, or YooHooooo Carol Bartz. Sheeeeshhh!

  1. Koda

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Where's Greenpeace's info?

    I'd love to see how Greenpeace has minimized it's impact on the environment. They're just a bunch of well funded hypocrites on a good day. They have boats (very inefficient) and fly (also inefficient) their little activists all over the world to protest things.

  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Who cares?

    Who cares what these worthless greeners think about anything?

  1. rickcj

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Yo Greenpeace

    Go find a whole and crawl in it for good.

  1. peter02l

    Joined: Dec 1969



    someone has to pay to cover the cost of lentil and sandals.

  1. facebook_Clarence

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Apr 2011



    They suck, but here's a better idea: Apple should develop its own cold fusion reactor inside the data center. Just imagine what that would do for their stock price.

    - Sent from my Android device.

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No shining stars in the group

    Look at all the scores....from all the companies.....only 3 "B"s in the whole bunch, mostly "D"s and "F"s so really, no one is doing so well

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Greeenpeace could not be reached for comment

    They were busy driving around in their gas guzzling SUVs after buying "carbon credits" to make themselves feel better. Here is a better idea, plant trees "AND" don't drive an SUV unless if you have to.

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