Bigger Tech, Smaller Footprint
Apple. Microsoft. Tesla. SpaceX. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard their names by now. Not only are these some of the biggest tech companies on the globe, but they are also three of the many thousands of companies embracing the green revolution. Some green changes have been in place for years, while some may have been spurred by the recent global pandemic. Let’s take a look at each of the aforementioned companies to see what they’re doing to make a more positive impact on the planet.
A Fruit You Might Know
How about we start with Apple. Known for its stunning yet expensive electronic devices that we still end up buying, it has grown from Steve Jobs’s garage to a company employing thousands of people with operations around the globe. Focusing on its domestic footprint, it’s impossible not to talk about the recently completed corporate headquarters known as Apple Park. Situated in Cupertino, California, and designed under the direction of Apple’s legendary Chief Design Officer John Ive, the flying-saucer shaped campus boasts some incredibly environmentally friendly features. For those of you asking, aliens have not come to visit it (yet).
If you think the campus’s flying saucer shape is pretty cool, you’ll love to hear about its state of the art design and tech features. Just think of it as an Apple device on steroids. Starting with its energy sources, the campus is powered by 100% renewable energy, most of which is supplied by a 17-megawatt onsite rooftop solar installation.
(Apple Park corporate headquarters in Cupertino, CA.https://images.app.goo.gl/t1suyRCY3cGbqAveA )
Furthermore, air flows freely between the inside and outside of the building, eliminating the need for HVAC systems during nine months of the year. In the massive center courtyard and throughout the rest of the campus, over 9,000 drought-resistant trees are planted, providing natural greenery, shade, and clean oxygen to the environment. Overall, the campus has a LEED Platinum certification. Most importantly, Apple announced that 100% of its global facilities will be completely powered by clean energy. Apple is one company leading the way in eco-friendly building usage.
Microsoft is another company that is committed to promoting planet-friendly practices. They have pledged that by 2030 they will be carbon negative, and by 2050 they’ll remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975. Their ambitious yet detailed plan outlines how this will be done.
Currently, each division within Microsoft pays a $15/metric ton fee for carbon waste, but this will be further scrutinized and encompass additional activities such as employee travels. Larger aspects of the plan involve shifting to 100% renewable energy for all of their data centers, buildings, and campuses by 2025, as well as electrifying their global campus operations vehicle fleet by 2030. Considering the sheer size of Microsoft, it is an ambitious goal, but they recognize the need to lead by example in the fight for our planet’s well being.
You might be wondering why a car company is on this list of tech companies going green, but Tesla is much more than a traditional automobile manufacturer. Founded in 2003 and with Elon Musk as CEO since 2008, its mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, starting with electric cars. To help with charging the ever-increasing number of electric vehicles on the road, they’ve developed a growing network of supercharger stations, currently boasting over 20,000 such stations and counting around the globe. Even if you don’t own a Tesla, you’ve probably driven by a dealership or parking lot with dozens of Tesla models charging their batteries. The open parking spaces can fill up pretty fast!
If you happen to be too far away from one of those or would rather charge your car at home, Tesla has you covered. They manufacture and install solar panels and even roofs made of solar panel shingles. Paired with their battery technology, environmentally conscious households can store energy from their solar panels and either use it or sell any excess energy back to the grid.
Something Out of this World
Perhaps Musk’s most ambitious project yet, SpaceX, designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. Since they are reusable (the videos are iconic), they are significantly less resource-intensive to deploy, both in terms of financial costs and materials needed to build the massive rockets. Like the implementation process of its cars, traveling to outer space might feature a tiered approach until costs continue to diminish. Unfortunately, we’re not at a Star Wars level spacecraft design at the moment. So, in reality, this means things like letting other space companies pay for their cargo to hitch a ride on a SpaceX rocket into space.
(Falcon Heavy rocket being launched, https://images.app.goo.gl/VAKkSYqyn1QVXC336)
The long-term goal, however, as stated on the SpaceX website, is to help make humanity multi-planetary. Such a goal would mean that Mars needs to become habitable for long term stays, something that doesn’t exist today but could very well exist in the future. Just think, one day instead of vacationing in Florida you could take a quick trip to the Red Planet! On a more serious note, this accomplishment might help save humans from a major catastrophe by allowing the dispersion of population away from earth onto a new planet. This will take additional decades to accomplish, and might never happen in our lifetimes, but it is still admirable that Tesla is working towards such a grand goal.
Large corporations can have bad reputations when it comes to the environment, often for good reasons. But Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, and SpaceX demonstrate that it’s not impossible for large enterprises to make significant strides to help the environment. With new energy solutions and sustainability practices on the horizon, it is exciting to imagine what the next few years or even months have in store.