Building permits confirm Apple’s plans

Apple Inc. filed for more building permits last week that confirm the company is looking to add significant green technology to its data center in Maiden.

Apple released new information on its website in February that said it plans to power its data center completely from renewable energy. In a brief statement on its website, Apple announced that it plans to power the Maiden data center with the nation’s largest end-user-owned solar array and non-utility fuel cell installation.

Last week, Catawba County officials issued an Erosion Control permit at 5977 Startown Road, the address for Apple's data center. Apple applied for the permit on Feb. 20, according to county records.

According to the permit, work at the address is described as “grading for new building.” What that building will exactly be has yet to be reported, but Apple describes the project as a “tactical” data center.

Holder Construction, which has been contracted by Apple for multiple projects in Maiden, also applied for a building permit on March 7 for new construction at the same address. The permit is being reviewed, according to county records.

The town of Maiden also issued a zoning permit to Holder last week for a “tactical data center,” said Maiden Town Manager Todd Herms.

Herms said the structure is being built to assist Apple’s existing $1 billion data center.

“As far as I can tell, it is some type of new construction to support their operations on site,” Herms said.

Apple has been relatively quiet about its plans for its multiple properties on Startown Road.

Apple hinted in October 2011 that it wanted to build a solar array across from its data center, filing for an erosion control permit for more than 170 acres of land at 6028 Startown Road. In the permit, it described the project as “Solar panel farm A.”

Since then, Apple has hired contractors to clear and resurface the land directly across from its Maiden data center, even adding 10 additional acres to the project’s total acreage in February, according to the permit.

“At this current time, they are building the nation’s largest end user-owned solar facility, which will be 20 Megawatts,” Herms said. “They also have a 5-Megawatt fuel cell project that should be complete by the end of the year.”

Herms said Apple’s green plans show the company’s commitment to making its data center as environmentally friendly as possible.

The corporate giant says it prides itself in being eco-friendly, and its Maiden data center recently earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

In 2010, for example, the company was responsible for about 14.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Its facilities, including the Maiden data center, accounted for 2 percent of those emissions, according to Apple’s website.

“Our new data center in Maiden, N.C., demonstrates our commitment to reducing the environmental impact of our facilities through energy-efficient, green building design,” Apple said on its online environmental impact report. “We know of no other data center of comparable size that has achieved this level of LEED certification. Our goal is to run the Maiden facility with high-percentage renewable energy mix.”

Apple’s large-scale sustainable efforts may promote sustainability throughout the county, something Herms said Maiden always strives to pursue.

“The town of Maiden always researches the most effective and efficient way possible to conduct business,” Herms said.