Tech giant Apple is planning a solar power data centre, whilst internet superpower Google is to invest millions in renewable energy technologies. Alex Blackburne finds out how more companies with similar global influence should follow the pair’s lead.
Apple and Google – two of the world’s largest and most powerful organisations – are individually taking steps to make their businesses more environmentally-friendly.
The Apple iPhone is the world’s best-selling mobile phone, with nearly 20 million devices sold every three months. The fact that it’s insulting to call it simply a mobile phone, shows the technological advancements the late Steve Jobs and company have made at the forefront of the industry.
Meanwhile, Google is unequivocally regarded as the world leaders in internet searches (amongst other things), with the organisation’s name now in the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb, meaning its place at the top of the pile is almost undefeatable.
The two companies certainly don’t lack power, influence and respect in their sectors, which is why both have taken steps to modify and revitalise their business models to prove that they are also at the forefront of a global environmental movement as well.
Earlier this year, Greenpeace released a comprehensive report named How dirty is your data?. In the report, that assessed the environmental impact of some of the world’s largest companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Google, they placed Apple, who then had a heavy reliance on “dirty”, coal-fired data centres, at the bottom of the league table.
The report clearly provided Apple with a stark realisation about the way it worked because, in an attempt to rejuvenate its environmental reputation, it is now planning to convert its 121 acre, $1 billion North Carolinian data centre from coal to solar power.
Apple chiefs have been predictably secretive about the plans up to now, with the news only released to the world when work crews began clearing the site by burning the greenery, forcing nearby homeowners to complain to the local council.
Mirroring Apple’s innovative step forwards in the environmental sector, Google announced this week that it will be scrapping its renewable energy research and development department in favour of straight investment – $850m worth – into renewable energy technologies.
Tucked away at the bottom of a blog entry post modestly entitled ‘More spring cleaning out of season’, the internet supremo explained the reasoning for its decision.
“At this point, other institutions are better positioned than Google to take this [renewable energy] research to the next level. So we’ve published our results to help others in the field continue to advance the state of power tower technology, and we’ve closed our efforts.
“We will continue our work to generate cleaner, more efficient energy—including our on-campus efforts, procuring renewable energy for our data centers [sic], making our data centers [sic] even more efficient and investing more than $850 million in renewable energy technologies.”
Although both Apple and Google have reached the top of the respective fields through innovation and invention, and not for their environmental consciousness, it’s refreshing to see them both striving to change their ways.
There is obviously still a long way to go for the pair before they become 100% sustainable, but their place as leaders of the pack is undoubted. If they can lead by example in order to help to save the planet, and subsequently influence other organisations to do the same, then our hopes for a sustainable future might just be realised.
If you would like to invest in responsible, ethical and environmentally aware companies – those that make a real difference in the fight against global climate change – ask your financial adviser, if you have one, or complete our online form and we’ll connect you with a specialist ethical adviser.
How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life
Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense. But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?
For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out. A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession. This bigger issue was that of climate change. And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.
Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more. He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland. There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.
The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done. With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet. The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind. As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness. The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small. The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty. As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.
We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help. And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet. Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change. You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed. But so is he. Every change starts with one.
5 Things You Can Do Yourself to Improve the Value of Your House
Whether you want to own it or list it, every once in a while, a house needs a facelift. This will not only improve quality of your life but will capitalize your home’s value significantly, too.
The best way to improve home value by yourself is to upgrade only what is necessary and nothing more. For instance, why would you buy a new bathroom door when a little retouch and a coat of fresh paint will suffice? By taking this approach, you are allowing yourself to make several small improvements instead of venturing just one or bigger ones. Select projects thoughtfully and know when you should stop.
Pitch in for the kitchen
If you really want a return on investment one day, start in the kitchen. By many, the kitchen still represents the heart and the soul of the house, the central hub of a property and it will all on its own add colossal value to your home. Moreover, the kitchen can be a breaking point in selling the house, so you should not hold on to your wallet in this area.
There are many little things you can do to spruce up the overall image of your kitchen. You may paint the kitchen cabinets, replace old door handles, add additional storage space with a sliding wall or a kitchen island if there is enough room for it. In addition, you may open the living space up by taking a kitchen wall down. Possibilities for do-it-yourself are many.
Add an attic or a basement bedroom
Properties are usually valued by two things: land size and the number of bedrooms. The price range between a three to four-bedroom home is two to four hundred thousand. Since you can’t change the size of your land, you can at least increase the number of bedrooms.
If you are prepared to go full-scale, converting the attic or the basement into the bedroom is another especially favored project that will by far boost up your home’s value once you decide to put it on the market. Until you decide to list it you will enjoy in your own extra space for entertainment, living, sleeping, playing, exercising, or whatever you fancy.
Transformation with paint
If your walls have scrapes and stained paint, a vintage color or shabby wallpaper, several cans of paint can make a striking distinction. In order to increase the value of your home, it is recommended to go with neutral colors that will unify the whole house and make the space visually bigger.
Bottom line, nothing can transform a home like a cast of fresh new paint. It is the number one way to beef up a property value of any budget. Additionally, painting the house is still one of the easiest, fastest and highest value drivers.
Secure with style
All of your effort and money would be wasted if you can’t protect the investments you made. A good security door costs as little as a few hundred dollars but if it saves you just once from being robbed it instantly pays itself off. People avoid putting security screens on windows because they mostly do not look stylish enough, but there are other options, such as installing shutters. There are so many elegant and cool shutter options that we found at Independent Blinds & Awnings that it’s really hard not to find something for you.
Basic maintenance for a worry-free mind
A clean house is a healthier house for you and your family. By making a clean house your number one on the list for improving, you accomplish a couple of things at once.
First, you stay on track with maintenance issues and, consequently you are able to recognize future problems before they become costly ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and garbage to pile up over time. Thirdly, smudged, dirty windows can have a bad impact on the overall perception of the house. Same as eyes are windows to the soul, windows are for the home. Therefore, you need to wash them properly.
Spice up the landscaping
Big backyard is an all Australian dream and still, it is more often than not the most ignored area of the house. However, landscaping is really important as it frames a property from every corner.
Simple, low budget cosmetic changes in the front yard including installing garden beds, adding plants, pebbles or mulch, and paving or painting the front walls will positively lift the curb appeal as well as the property value. As for the backyard, you may span a lawn to create more open space for you and your family to move freely, cut and reduce unruly trees and vegetation, and fix the fence if needed.
Adding value to your home through a cosmetic or structural renovation is an actual way to quickly enhance your money invested in a property. In the end, you need to make sure that if you will continue to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations will contribute to a good lifestyle and that it will give the impression of a “ready to move in” property once you decide to list it.
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