Company to rely more on natural light, stone facades in new design
The new design for standalone, non-flagship Apple Stores as mentioned in our recent story on the approval process happening in Tennessee has been revealed in filings with the Germantown Design Review Commission. The new design, which will also be used in stores opening overseas this fall, is not a radical departure from existing designs, but replaces the stainless steel facade with a granite paneling, and increases the use of natural light, plants, and other environmental elements.
Impact not growing in relation to sales, however, with many factors out of Apple's control
The 2015 edition of Apple's annual Environmental Responsibility Report covering calendar 2014 is out, and as usual highlights the company's efforts to reduce, reuse, or mitigate its use of rare materials and its carbon footprint. While it points out that all of the company's data centers are now powered by renewable energy resources and reduced its greenhouse gas emissions during product use by 61 percent over the past seven years, Apple admits there are still areas, most of which are out of its direct control, where more could be done.
Visually pleasing while putting weather in context with your life.
There are places in the world where the weather is extreme, but people who live there know how to deal with it. There are places in the world where weather remains constant, except for certain parts of the year when everybody freaks out. No matter where you live, there are a few things you can be sure of. Two of them are that the sun rises and sets, and that atmospheric conditions will create some kind of environment people may or may not need to prepare for. Fresh Air by Backcountry Studios, seeks to take a topic most people see as banal, the weather, and put it in context with what's going on in your life.
Sound generator promises to help block out unwanted noise
Sometimes it's hard to stay calm in a world of constant noise. We hear it in our morning commutes, we hear it in the office place, we hear it as we're out running errands. If you're looking for a way to get away from the noise, but you aren't looking to invest in a pair of expensive noise-cancelling headphones, you've got a few options. Sure, playing music helps, but that can often be every bit as distracting as environmental noises. If you're looking for a way to tune out distractions, we recommend you take a look at Rainy Mood by Plain Theory, a high-quality, calming sound generator.
Overall carbon footprint down 27 percent over last eight years
On Monday, Apple updated its previously-released 2014 Environmental Responsibility Report and its Environmental Initiatives website with new figures covering both fiscal 2013 and some revised figures from fiscal 2012. Due to a recalculation of energy use in 2012, the company now says it reduced carbon emissions for that year by three percent -- and that while energy use overall has increased 44 percent since fiscal 2011, the carbon footprint has been offset dramatically by the use of renewable resources.
Apple stores adding green to 'leaf' in Apple logo for Earth Day
Continuing with the various environmentally-themed disclosures on Monday, Apple has begun decorating its Apple Stores for Earth Day on Tuesday by adding green gels to the "leaf" portion of the Apple logo on some stores. The changeover is happening worldwide, with pictures of the modified logo appearing from China and Australia that also include employees in green-colored work shirts.
Non-functioning units will be recycled, recent working units can be exchanged for gift cards
Continuing its multi-pronged and environmentally-minded publicity push on Monday, Apple has also initiated a new program that will turn all Apple Stores into recycling centers, accepting all used Apple devices either for free (in the case of non-functional and older devices) or in exchange for a gift card (for newer, functional units). The new plan is part of an effort to reduce the company's "footprint" in terms of manufacturing pollution, and keep more of its electronics out of landfills.
2013 Supplier Responsibility summary builds on previous successes
Apple has updated its Supplier Responsibility report, highlighting both continuing improvement and pointing out new initiatives designed to further improve conditions and social issues along its supply chain. Apple reports it achieved 95 percent compliance among all suppliers in limiting workers to a maximum 60-hour work week in 2013, and the company has doubled the number of factories offering free worker education and development programs. The company is also now training additional environment, health and safety (EHS) personnel for its workplaces.
Major tech companies wield influence on American government
Google increased the amount it spent on lobbying the US government 90 percent year-over-year in 2012, according to data compiled by Fortune. The company ended up spending $18.22 million, easily beating out any other American technology firm. Microsoft, in fact, came in second place with $8.09 million, despite likewise increasing its spending. Other major tech businesses that funneled more money toward lobbying last year included HP, Facebook, and Amazon.
Google buys $200M stake in west Texas wind farm
Adding to the search giant's existing renewable energy portfolio, Google last week announced a $200 million investment in a wind farm in west Texas. Google's nearly quarter-billion dollar investment in the Spinning Spur Wind Project is the company's eleventh green energy investment since 2010. It is also one of Google's larger renewable energy investments, second only to the $280 million the company pumped into SolarCity, a solar systems company.
iFixit accuses EPEAT of 'greenwashing'
In a caustically-worded piece, the CEO of iFixit has decried both the EPEAT environmental certification program and Apple's Retina MacBook Pro in particular, claiming that the former's Gold certification of the latter constitutes "greenwashing," or a form of spin in which deceptive marketing is used to portray a product as environmentally friendly. He claims that EPEAT bent the definitions of its own rules in order to grant Gold status to Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, as well as several other "ultrabook" class devices from other makers. The result, he contends, is that the EPEAT is ultimately weaker, compromised to a degree that could bring the technology industry to an inflection point, with significant implications for the environment.
Generally, phones becoming less toxic
Mobile phones are being built using fewer toxic chemicals than were their predecessors, and Apple's iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, along with many other newer phone models, are among the least toxic to have been released in more than a decade. This according to a new report out from iFixit and HealthyStuff.org. The two sites performed chemical analyses on 36 phones, finding that Apple's two newest models ranked in among the five least toxic, along with models from Samsung and Motorola.
Applying knowledge of cooling to buildings
Some details revealed about how Apple intends to make its Maiden, North Carolina data center almost entirely powered from renewable-energy sources have come to light, showing a combination of solar and fuel-cell technology and practical energy-saving policies. The plans show that the company behind the iMac are also applying some cooling lessons learned from computers to the buildings, such as variable-speed fans.
Allows Mac users to try out both beta environments
Cutting-edge users who have wanted to give the new Windows 8 Consumer Preview a tryout, or developers wanting to work with the OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview but don't have a spare machine to use for these still-unstable beta releases can work with them more safely using the newly-updated Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac, which now supports running both OSes in virtual machine environments to protect their "production" systems.
Group credits iPad with helping drive emissions
The activist group Greenpeace has publicly blasted the iPad and Dell over different environmental issues. The organization labels the iPad one of many "quintessential cloud computing devices" that are credited with driving the technology industry's demand for dirty coal power.
Chamber says bill could cause US job losses
The US Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday took a jab at Apple over the company's recent protest resignation from the business group. In a letter to the company's chief executive, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said that Apple's resignation over the Chamber's lack of support for environmental legislation was premature and misguided.
New 3D software previewed
e-on software today is previewed Vue 7 at Siggraph in Los Angeles. Vue is a 3D-environment solution, which creates, animates, renders and integrates natural 3D visuals, working with Autodesk 3ds Max, Maya, Softimage XSI, Maxon Cinema 4D and Newtek LightWave. Vue 7 will feature a third-generation of Vue's EcoSystem technology (for creating nature-based visuals) and Spectral 2 atmospheric engine. Also new is Vue 7's SolidGrowth 4 HD, a new indoor Radiosity engine.
Greenpeace pans iPhone 3G
Greenpeace is again calling Apple out on its environmental practices, citing that the iPhone 3G uses the same toxic building materials that it found in its breakdown of the original device. Casey Harrell, International Toxics Campaigner for Greenpeace, released a note on Wednesday saying he believes that, while the company has made large strides with reducing hazardous materials in its iMac and portable computers, the iPhone 3G remains largely unchanged.
Apple last in industry
Apple has been ranked the worst among all major PC vendors and other large electronic firms in the fight against climate change. Climate Counts this week released its second annual Company Scorecard hoping to create a "simple, easy-to-understand ranking of companies would motivate both companies and consumers to step-up their efforts on climate change." Apple was ranked in last place among the list of 12 electronics companies, while companies such as IBM, Canon, Toshiba, Sony, and Hewlett-Packard were near the top of the electronics industry. Top honor went to Nike, which passed last year’s high scorer, Canon, to become the top scored company among the 56 companies evaluated. Apple was the only electronic company to receive a "Stuck" designation, with a recommendation as a choice to "avoid for the climate-conscious consumer," because the company has taken "meaningful action against climate change."