Gap Score

With the largest privately owned solar array in the US fueling its North Carolina data center, a second solar facility scheduled to be operational in late 2013, and plans to achieve 100 percent renewable energy for its data centers and facilities worldwide, Apple is making progress in its commitment to a clean energy future—although critics, naturally, feel it could do more to green its business and spur the use of renewable power. Though revenue has grown, the company’s greenhouse gas emissions per dollar of revenue have decreased by 21.5 percent since 2008—and Apple is still the only company in the tech industry whose entire product line exceeds US Energy Star specifications. Still, its sustainability perception score declined this past year and its environmental performance, while improved since last year, has not kept pace with other top global brands. Among the pressures facing Apple (and much of the high-tech sector) is a move to fuel more of its data servers with solar, wind, and other renewables instead of fossil fuels. In a move to shore up its reputation, Apple just hired former US EPA chief, Lisa Jackson, as its first VP of Environmental Initiatives. Among her challenges: improving the company’s transparency and reporting while giving the company more clout in energy policy at home and around the world. Overall, Apple takes a comprehensive, if independent, approach to environmental responsibility, mainly focusing on reducing manufacturing and product impacts. Under Jackson’s lead, the brand may finally connect the dots between innovation and sustainability—and become the green Apple its critics and customers want it to be.