Greenpeace Upgrades Apple Data Center Rating

by | Jul 13, 2012

Greenpeace has adjusted Apple’s grade in an evaluation that ranks industry leaders in cloud computing, and credited the company for making significant improvements in its clean energy policies, but still gave it low scores for its energy choices when compared with sector leaders.

The Greenpeace International analysis A Clean Energy Road Map for Apple upgrades Apple in three of four categories, reflecting the company’s public commitments to clean energy in its cloud computing facilities.

Apple moved from an F to a D for infrastructure siting, from a D to a C for energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, and from a D to a C for renewables and advocacy. Apple still has lower grades than technology and cloud computing companies including Dell, Google, Facebook and Akamai.

Greenpeace criticized Apple for a lack of transparency surrounding its “coal-free” commitments and urged the company to expand its use of renewable energy. Greenpeace maintained Apple’s D grade for transparency and noted that the company continues to be selective in disclosing the energy-related details of its iCloud.

Greenpeace said Apple cannot be coal-free without pushing Duke Energy, the electricty supplier to its cloud computing facilities, toward that goal as well.

The analysis is a followup evaluation to Greenpeace’s How Clean is your Coal? report, which ranked global IT and Internet companies on their renewable energy policies.

In May, Apple announced it would power its 500,000-square-foot data center in Maiden, N.C. entirely with renewable energy by the end of the year. The announcement followed protests against Apple by Greenpeace activists who criticized the company for powering its iCloud using coal-fired power plants.

Apple will produce about 60 percent of renewable power for the data center from solar and fuel cells installed at the site. The remaining 40 percent will be purchased from local and regional sources.

Greenpeace’s upgrade for Apple comes on the heels of news this week that San Francisco’s city government will no longer buy the company’s desktops, laptops or monitors, after Apple decided to withdraw its products from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool registry.

The University of California, the largest US public higher-education system, is also examining whether to suspend Apple purchases.

Apple hasn’t issued an official explanation for its decision to remove its products from EPEAT. Some reports speculate that design changes for Apple’s new MacBook Pro, which make it more difficult to disassemble and recycle, led to the decision.

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