Apple Campus 2 life cycle; Materials
What makes a corporation great? Is it dedicated and hard-working employees? Is it a well-planned business model with large profit margins? Or is it the corporate headquarters? It seems that the answer to this question is 'all of the above'. Apple, with their new Campus 2, is making headlines and turning heads with their new "spaceship" circular headquarters. The new site of Apple and where 13,000 employees will be working is over 176 acres and boasts many amenities and facilities including an underground theater, over 1,000 edible fruit trees, seven cafes, several restaurants, a state-of-the-art research and development facility, private transit, a wellness center with spa and gym, underground parking, and even a visitors center. The raw materials required for this massive project were extensive and very consciously chosen; from the German glass panels to the domestically produced breathable concrete, every item serves its own purpose. Apple is certainly promoting the new headquarters and is receiving much attention due to it, generating new headlines every day. Much of that same attention is because of the claims that the campus will be very eco-friendly, but the question to ask is: in reality, once implemented, will the Apple Campus 2 be truly 'green'? After analyzing the materials used before, during, and after construction, can the Apple Campus 2 live up to the expectations of having a sustainable work area? If designs are proven valuable, can other new corporate building projects copy them?
Glass is a wonder of science and design. It has been used in buildings, art works, vehicles, virtually everywhere in daily life, and now in the Apple Campus 2. Glass that is used load-bearing fashion is no different in its basic makeup than a normal kitchen window. Yes, the exact same materials are used to make small and brittle glass windows as the larger than life cold-bent panels used on the Apple Campus 2. The main method for producing large and durable panes of glass, which can be made specifically for structural use, is called the Pilkington, or Float Process. The process has been in use since 1952 and still holds strong today. The basic materials are made up of 72.6% silica(coming from sand), 13.0% sodium oxide in the form of soda/ash/saltcake, 8.4% calcium oxide from limestone, 4.0% magnesium oxide from dolomite, 1.0% alumina from sand with aluminium oxide, and 1.0% "other" materials that include calcium oxide and iron oxide. The sand is a fine white sand that contains fewer contaminants than a normal sand and is usually taken from Australia and South Asia(China, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Egypt) although it can also be found in Ireland and Britain and most European glass factories use the latter. Although soda ash is naturally occurring and can be mined, factories to make soda ash in Europe are plentiful. All of the remaining chemicals are normally manufactured specifically for glass making and can be acquired by a plethora of methods. These materials and chemicals are then heated(anywhere between 1500-2500C) to form an homologous mass that is placed onto a heated tin plate to the desired specifications. Some thinner coatings such as UV-reflective material are applied at this step. The mass is then annealed(cut by a heat treated blade called a Lehr) for strength after the "slice" is cooled over time and taken off of the tin. The panel is now ready for treating which can entail many processes such as coating with a durability film, cold-bending, laminating, and other. Although the basic technique of producing glass has not changed much, many advances and additions have made it possible to make majestic modern architecture a possibility.
The Apple Campus 2 uses glass panels that are specialized and provide sustainability to the building while maintaining a high-end appearance. The panels, which measure anywhere from 11m x 3m to 15m x 3.2m(smaller if not on the exterior ring), are manufactured in Germany by a subsidiary of long time business partner of Apple, Seele. Seele is a glass facade construction company based out of Gersthofen, a small town north of Munich, Germany that has been in business for over thirty-two years ago and has been in business with Apple for well over 15 years. It comes as no surprise that Apple would choose a subsidiary of Seele to produce as well as transport and install the structural glass. Sedak uses the same specialized processes and treatments as Seele but was setup in 2007 as a completely independent glass manufacturer, and the one hired to make the 872 bent, laminated, multi-pane, insulated panels along with 1,616 white glass canopies, 900 vertical glass panes, 510 panes of upper window clerestory glass, and 126 panes used in skylights for the Apple Campus 2. The pieces that are to be used as the exterior ring are cold-bent at 270C in a 220-ton furnace-style device that was built for this particular project. The pieces are then laminated to be double-paned. This provides insulation and more structural integrity to the building. The curved glass amounts to a total of about six kilometers and all of the panels(which are approx. 3 tons each) are shipped directly from Germany in 20-ton parcels. Sedak even takes responsibility of installation in Cupertino and is working hand-in-hand with the contractors. Once in place, the canopies provide shade and support solar panels while the massive glass walls and ceiling fixtures provide natural light and aesthetic pleasure.
Although the glass helps natural thermal consistency, the true innovation in the Apple Campus 2 climate control is the 4,300 slabs of breathable concrete used as floors and ceilings. Cement is normally made using the main materials of "limestone, shells, and chalk or marl combined with shale, clay, slate, blast furnace slag, silica sand, and iron ore". The giant, 60,000 pound pieces are made of the same cement but they are designed with sustainability in mind. Instead of a normal floor and roof cement, the slabs are prefabricated in a local Sacramento factory and are completely hollow. Steel helps support the cement but it is a very secondary material. This design allows air to flow freely throughout the top and bottom of the four floors of the building. Overall, this will reduce the need for air conditioning by over 75% time used throughout the year. Apple will install a powered temperature control system but it serves only as a fallback and will not be relied upon continuously. There are two contractors to mention when speaking of the Apple Campus 2 and the responsibility of installing the breathable concrete. Skanska was first assigned to the project but problems in 2015 caused Apple CEO Tim Cook to hire Rudolph & Sletten for completion, which is expected to happen in 2017. Once completed however, the environmental concerns are not limited only the building but also extend to its use and the power involved in providing space for over 13,000 people.
According to Apple, the Campus 2 will be powered by 100% sustainable energy. The energy required on a daily basis during "peak day-time hours" is going to be anywhere from 25 megawatts to 30 megawatts. The complex's rooftop solar array will provide 16mw of the required energy. The materials involved to make that possible were extensive. Cadmium Telluride is used for photovoltaic applications on solar panels and is normally gathered through industrial procedures involving Cadmium and Tellurium which are extracted from Zinc ores and Copper refineries. The black Cadmium Telluride powder most likely comes from Canada, China, and India, where the raw materials are extracted. First Solar, the company making the solar panels for Apple, processes the raw materials in one of their production facilities in either Perrysburg, Ohio or Kulim, Malaysia. There is also an onsite "low carbon central plant" that will provide power to 4mw Bloom Energy fuel cells. The Bloom Energy cells are custom-designed for the campus and are not a previously released model; they will be manufactured in Sunnyvale, CA very close to the Campus 2 and Newark, DE. It will take the hydrocarbon fuels provided by the plant and convert them to clean power. This is done through the solid oxide design that Bloom has used in the past(in Delaware with Apple for a different collaboration). The raw materials involved in the cell include several alloys for the anode and cathode with a solid ceramic plate acting as an electrolyte in between. Between the on-site power sources, about 75% of the needed electricity is covered. Whenever more is necessary, which will vary in amounts from 0-10mw, the California Flats Solar Project will provide the remaining amount. The CFSP is a 280mw solar farm that was a joint effort between First Solar and Apple but Apple can only receive up to 130mw while PG&E receives the other 150mw. The three sustainable sources of energy make up the total power for the Apple Campus 2, making the corporate headquarters 'green' not only on its own, but also while populated and in use.
The landscape of the 176-acre site is also a an environmentally-sound and will not affect the region in a manner that many projects would. Currently during 2016, the site is only about 20% "green" landscape but Apple says that once construction is finished, the site will be over 80% natural landscape. At the moment, there is a very large dirt mound aside the construction space but Apple assures the public that all of the dirt that was extracted during the different stages of building assembly. It will be used not only to fill spaces and plant grass but also to institute over 7,000 new shade and fruit trees in addition to the already present 1,000 trees. 4,506 of those new trees were purchased from Hewlett-Packard. Lead arborist Dave Muffly planted the remaining trees and cared for the lot. All of the trees will provide clean air and shade while also giving free and natural food to those people on-site.
Trees are not only being planted however; they are also being harvested for construction use. Specific species of maple were chosen for the interior and only the finest "heartwood" was to be used. Apple explains that Steve Jobs had a vision in mind of the same aesthetic prowess shown in the products would also be shown in the architecture of the Apple Campus 2, "no seam, gap, or paintbrush stroke visible for a clean fit and finish". Even the tables are placed and designed with a purpose, as evident by the fact that they had to be airlifted into the building. The table number over 500 and are all 18ft x 4ft solid spessart white oak. The main restaurant has a wooden 92' tall door. Although the exact number will remain unknown until completion, it can be estimated that at least 1,000 trees were harvested. Some of the interior wood might have also been recycled from the previously present buildings that were demolished. Apple's website claims that 95% of all the materials were recycled after being broken down(concrete crushed, rebar repurposed, etc.). Apple is cutting no costs to give their employees an amazing job-site, as evident by the Campus 2's five billion dollar price-tag.
The environmental impact, nonetheless, is not only dependent on the in-use characteristics but also the recyclability when the Campus 2 is to be deconstructed. While the Apple Campus 2 is on-track to be one of the most eco-friendly corporate sites in the country, but the recyclability is more complicated. Although the 80% of "green" landscape will aid in the effort of recycling, some of the building aspects can pose a threat. The Bloom Energy fuel cells, although providing clean energy, cannot be broken down easily and will probably not be recycled. The elements within the cell are not biodegradable and will require industrial decomposing. The solar panels from First Solar are no different; after many years of use, these will not be repurposed and will pose a threat to the environment. The glass panels, concrete, wood, and metal used in the building can, however, can be reprocessed for a new project if the building is demolished. They have also invested 17.5 million dollars in a regionally implemented water recycling project that will remain in use even if the Campus 2 does not.
When the curtain is peeled back and the publicity is ignored, the Apple Campus 2 does remain environmentally sound. It can be said that Apple did not consider the eco-repercussions when constructing the new headquarters; from the raw materials from the solar panels and the shipping of the glass panels to the trees cut down for tables and doors, fossil fuels, pollution, and contamination run rampant. It can also be said that the solar panels and fuel cells cannot be recycled and do pose a threat. Even considering these observations, the Campus 2 is a marvel in and of itself, being completely sustainable once in use, and does provide design innovations that can be implemented in other new corporate building undertakings. The glass panels' cold-bending and double lamination offer insulation and can be applied to many new projects. The breathable concrete can provide a luxurious floor and surfaces while providing natural air conditioning and providing strength and structural integrity. Between the building and landscape technical aspects and the endless amenities, the Apple Campus 2 left no stone unturned in the search for a balance between man and nature. The Campus 2 will, without a doubt, be eco-friendly while providing a revolutionary workspace for years to come. Other companies and communities can improve upon their model and make more environmentally-sound structures.
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Apple Campus 2: Waste
This essay attempts to breakdown and analyze the life cycle of the key materials used to construct and power Apple’s new campus, what those apparatuses are made of, how those materials are made, and how it all gets to Cupertino, California, US. This essay will attempt to focus on the waste portion of the life cycle, and inform the reader why and how apple uses state-of-the-art technology and if this technology like solar panels and fuel cells are as efficient as they are lead to be. Technology like solar panels and fuel cells, and building methods like hollow cement and glass structures are popular candidates for sustainable energies and energy conservers, but sometimes the methods of transportation or methods of decomposition can arouse curious questions. Apple is one of the leading corporations across the world and makes a point to promote sustainability, but are the methods and materials used in their new campus a good example for the next step in sustainability and renewable energy?
Sense 2008 Apple’s overall total emission has been constantly declining even with the rapid growth of their production. In 2011 their emissions were about 175,000 metric tons of carbon emissions per year, but would have been 225,000 metric tons if they were not committed to renewable energy. By 2015 their overall carbon emissions was just over 50,000 metric tons, but would have been 425,000 with out renewable energy. Like 97% of their other locations, Apple Campus 2 runs on renewable energy. Sixteen megawatts are provided by the solar canopy, and four megawatts are provided by fuel cells. All together, the 20 megawatts produced on campus is 75% of the energy needed to run the campus. The other 25% are provided by an off campus solar farm. The floors are ceilings are made up of hollowed concrete slabs to promote natural insulation, and the walls are constructed of over 4 miles of double-paned glass to increase natural lighting and still promote insulation. The campus’s landscape will hold almost 7,000 trees, all which are non-invasive species to California(“Environmental Responsibility Report”).
The first sixteen megawatts that power Apple Campus 2 are powered by photovoltaic cells. Solar cells use less material than other forms of energy, they are versatile, and they are manufactured on a large scale. Even though photovoltaic cells are not as efficient as prime movers like coal (7-15% compared to 70%), they produce no carbon emissions while they are producing energy. Not only does Apple have a solar canopy consisting of about 700,000 solar panels, but they also receive up to 130 megawatts from a 2,900 acre solar farm provided by First Solar. However solar panels do require constant maintenance and the invertors need to be replaced every few years(“Brenda Ruggiero-CEG Correspondent”).
Solar cells use something known as a thin film which makes up the photoactive material. These materials are amorphous silicon, copper indium diselenide, cadmium telluride, and film crystalline silicon. The solar panels are dominated by glass but the thin film and some metals could still be a concern. The manufacturing of these thin films produce high concentrations of chlorine and hydrochloric acid. Most polysilicon products(glass) also have a byproduct of silicon tetrachloride; for solar panels, each ton of polysilicon produced, at least four tons of silicon tetrachloride liquid waste is produced(“Vasilis M. Fthenakis”).
Solar panels have a life span of about thirty years, then they are decommissioned and/or recycled for use. In the recycling process, the low concentration of metals generates a low value and a higher cost, but the glass content has a value to smelter-operators who buy silica for their fluxing operation, so the overall treatment cost is reduced. Cadmium, tellurium, selenium, and contact metals can be treated in copper smelters where the shredded metals are processed through a liquid metal bath reactor, converters and anode furnaces. The ethylene vinyl acetate and plastics decompose into carbon dioxide and other vapors. The anodes are processed at a copper refinery where contact metals accumulate and are removed in the purification and acid bath phases(“Vasilis M. Fthenakis”).
Some of these medals are prohibited in other countries like China. There was a serious case in China where one company producing these films dumped their waste in the landfill next to a farming community which poisoned the soil and crop and created noxious gasses which affected the locals. Some of these metals are associated with numerous human illnesses such as lung, kidney and bone damage once absorbed by the body; cadmium can also become air born if incinerated.
Some manufacturing of solar panels use products that have a byproduct called hexafluoroethane (C2F6) which is 12,000 more times pollutant that carbon dioxide, and has a life time of 10,000 years once released into the air. This was the biggest problem in Gaolong, China, when the Luoyang Zhonggui High-Technology Co. decided to dump all their waste in public property, just outside their gates which were adjacent to a small farming community. All of their crops were ruined, the soil became covered in a thick layer of white powder, clouds of hydrochloric gas contaminated the air causing health issues for the residents, and immediate action was not taken(“Ariana Eunjeng Cha”).
The other four megawatts are generated by a collection of solid oxide fuel cells(SOFC) provide by Bloom Energy. The SOFC is like a battery in the sense that it has a cathode, an anode, and an electrolyte to generate electricity through a chemical reaction. While other sources of energy are fuel specific, the SOFC is fuel flexible meaning it can use multiple kinds of fuel from diesel to biofuels. What’s arousing about SOFCs is that, like solar panels, they produce almost no CO2 emissions while in use, they produce electricity on site and eliminate the 15% loss in normal off site electricity distribution plants, the SOFC in particular is favored because of its higher temperatures which is said to allow an efficiency of 70% with a 20% heat recovery, (temperatures vary from 650 -1000*Ccompared to 100 to 200*C) and flexible sizing as well as quiet operation. However, because these fuel cells are so sensitive to heat, a ten percent drop in temperature can result in a twelve percent drop in cell performance. SOFCs run a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide formed by a reforming hydrocarbon and use air as an oxidant producing water and carbon dioxide. Compared to other fuel cells, SOFCs have a greater tolerance to impure fuels, which act like a poison to other fuel cells.
The cathode is comprised of strontium doped lanthanum, and the anode nickel-YSZ cermets. Both of these materials are commonly used in cathodes and anodes because of its high electronic and ionic conductivity. The electrolyte is the part most commonly experimented with; in these fuel cells yttia doped zirconia and the way the cathode reaction to this material is what makes it function at such a high temperature. Most articles say the life expectancy of the SOFC runs from 40,000 to 60,000 hours which equals about 4.5 to 6.8 years.
Zirconium is an important material that occurs in a in the ceramics and the electrolyte of a SOFC and is used in over 35 other materials. Zirconium occurs naturally all around the world. Zircon usually occurs in minerals near beaches and river beds which are mined and dredged. One of the largest deposits is in Florida and the rest are spread out around Africa, Asia, and Australia. The top layer of sand is bulldozed, and the excavation is flooded. The sand is then handled by what’s called a floating sand dredge. The sludge is filtered in a mill close by where it passes through many screens where the zirconium and other materials are separated either by gravity, magnetically, or by electrostatic separation. The remains are returned to the land for practical uses. Once the proper minerals are removed, there are a few different methods to extracting zircon, different methods giving slightly different bonds. A couple of these methods sounds more organic, others like chlorination use more harmful chemicals(“Ralph H. Nielsen, James H. Schlewits, Henry Nielsen”).
In 2014 NBC broadcasted a report of the skeptical methods and CO2 emissions of Bloom Energy products. A regular power grid has an average of 959-1083lbs per megawatt hour, and the Bloom Boxes were advertised to emit 773lbs per megawatt hour. What other companies found was that the amount of CO2 emissions increase with age, averaging at 820-830lbs after just a few years. In legal contracts Bloom energy promises an annual CO2 reduction of 5 million pounds, but upon interview that number was suddenly cut in half.
One of the crucial building elements of Apple Campus 2 is the glass windows and canopies. Apple will be using the same glass supplied by the same company, Sedak – the world’s leading manufacturer of extremely high quality, insulating, safety, and structural glass elements – that they used to build their famous Apple Cube, glass stairs, and glass roofs at retail stores in NY. Each glass panel on the outside façade of the building will be 46 feet long and 10 feet high, and weigh about three tons. The panels on the inner façade of the ring will be just as tall but ten feet shorter and when all added up, equals over four miles of glass.
Sedak is based in Gersthofen, Germany, where they process, laminate, edge, print, coat and cold bend glass then ship their panels all around the world. For the Spaceship(just the center circular building alone) Sedak built 510 panes of upper windows, 126 glass panes used in skylights, 1,616 glass canopies, also up to 46 feet long, to provide shade and aid the ventilation and cooling system, and 872 customized panels for the facades each made of two single glass sheets(“West Sacramento Company a Key Player in Apple’s Iconic New Headquarters”). Glass built in this method is called laminated glass because two or more sheets are bonded together with tear-resistant elastic made of polyvinyl butyral(PVB), or ethylene vinyl acetate(EVA). This method increases the load the glass can bear, decrease the risk of injury upon breakage, and insulates which will keep the temperature warm in the winter and cooler in the summer saving tons of potential energy.
Sedak ships the glass in 20 ton parcels(6-7 panels) across the Atlantic and through the Panama Canal to California. For the 872 panes for the outer face, if the glass is shipped in 20 ton parcels at a time, that is 130.8 trips from Germany to California and back. They are then transported by truck in six ton parcels(2 panels per truck) to the Campus 2 site where they are lifted and set with a specialized forklift that uses suction cup fingers(“Daniel Eran Dilger”).
The protective layer made of EVA is a flame retardant coat that is heat resistant, and PVB is a recyclable plasticizer which is used in other products but mainly for laminated glass. However, once it is used in glass the recycling process becomes a little more complicated. PVB glass is not recycled in the UK because it’s said the process becomes too demanding, requiring uniform control of polymer properties. Instead it is usually throw in the landfill. PVA has organic rubber properties that hardens once heated to a specific temperature then cooled. A study on the decomposition of three materials with similar properties, stearic acid, paraffin wax, and polyvinyl butyral showed that 0% of materials could be lost in the recycling process, polyvinyl butyral having the most flexible exothermic peak(“Kuen-Shan Jaw, Chung-King Hsu, jinn-Shinng Lee”).
For the concrete construction Apple hired companies local to California and ninety-five percent of the materials from the previous campus were recycled and used to construct the Spaceship, a large portion of that being the cement. A crucial structural element to the Spaceship is the concrete slabs that make up the floors and ceiling of the building, and the cast-in-place concrete for other floors and paths. For this structural portion of the project, Apple turned to a family owned business based in West Sacramento, Clark Pacific. Clark Pacific specializes in prefabrications of concrete and framing, and have done a number of large scale projects in the SF Bay-area, as well as the UC Davis Medical Center Parking Structure III which received two awards for its design. Clark Pacific will cast about 4,300 hollow slabs and according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, the molded casts will be made close by in the Yolo County plants. Thanks to this unique design, the building will go without heating or air conditioning 75% of the year. For the cast-in-place concrete Apple hired Conco Commercial Concrete who used two on-site batch plants. Conco has done a large number of large projects in California as they are exclusive to the western side of the U.S. For the vast parking structure, McCarthy Building will cast a parking structure that will house over 14,000 vehicles.
Students in the previous quarters have done research on the life cycle of cement and found that cement is actually just the name of the bonding agent in a mixture of mainly calcium silicates. Calcium compound are extracted from the earth with strategically placed dynamite. The explosions of course affect the environment but also disturbed limestone which can cause reparatory problems. When mined with water the combination of calcium based minerals such as limestone can change the pH in the soil and destabilize ecosystems. To make the matter worse, often lubricants and cleaning agents are added to the water which end up poisoning the life around it. During processing and recycling of the cement many powders and particles are released into the air which can also cause respiratory problems to the people working around it(“Thushar Baiju”).
As for the landscaping, Apple has not moved any of the dirt off of the site despite the excavation from the underground theatre, underground parking, and the underground tunnel. Instead they will use it for the vast open green area littered with bike trails and trees. However, the project did require the removals of 3,710 other trees, only 90 of which will be replanted on the campus. However Apple plans to replant almost twice the amount of trees(6,200). There will be so many trees on the campus that the main building will not be visible from the road. About 4,600 of these trees have been growing and are nested in a hand full of nurseries in the Easy Bay and will eventually be delivered by truck two or three at a time. These trees are not all seedlings but are bigger and more matured. Eighty percent of the campus will be landscape; bike paths that stretch from one end to the other in a 30-acre park with apricot trees reminding us of the orchards in California.
In conclusion we can see the efforts that Apple has gone through to promote renewable energy for a sustainable company in and earth-friendly work environment. They have acquired 700,000 solar panels for on-site energy plus the aid of a solar farm for back-up energy; they have acquired sate-of-the-art fuel cells that have the highest efficiency compared to other fuel cells; they have recycled 95% of the material from the previous structures and used them to construct the headquarter; the majority of the material providers are local to California with an exception of Sedak based in Germany; they use advanced building and insulation methods to eliminate the use of energy for heating and cooling; Apple also invested $17.5 million in a regionally implemented water recycling program to recycle and reuse water on campus. They even promote morals in the form of architecture that follow what will hopefully be the next trend, “less energy is efficient energy.” Apple is making a good effort to be a company that runs on 100% sustainable energy, but there are always impurities in inorganic materials and gluttony. Hopefully by the time the solar cells need to be replaced humanity has made a healthier and eco-friendly advancement in sustainable energy weather that be with the use of more energy or not.
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