Apple is buying so many trees for its new campus that there aren’t enough for anyone else

Apple’s new campus, with a few trees planted.
Apple’s new campus, with a few trees planted.
Image: Reuters/Noah Berger
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Apple has often been known to corner the market for certain parts it needs to bring its latest creations to market. And in its push to become known as one of the greenest companies in the world, it seems that’s also the case when it’s dealing with foliage.

In a recent story on the forthcoming indoor garden above San Francisco’s new Transbay Transit Center train station, The San Francisco Chronicle revealed that there is intense competition for trees in California, partly because of the sheer number that Apple has bought for its nearly completed new headquarters in Cupertino. Patrick Trollip, the lead landscaper on the transit project, and Adam Greenspan, the Transbay’s architect, apparently have been combing nurseries up the Pacific coast in search of trees that it can grab before Apple does:

Buying trees is a surprisingly cutthroat business. And it’s been especially challenging to locate desirable specimens because Apple has been buying up 3,000 trees for its new Cupertino headquarters. When Greenspan and Trollip found a tree they fancied they would “tag it” with a locking yellow tag, so that nobody else — like Apple — could get it. Eventually all the tagged trees were moved to a nursery in Sunol, where the transbay project team leased 4 acres.

Apple has been sourcing thousands of trees and growing them in a nursery in that same town, although it’s unclear if the company has been trying to hoard trees as suggested. Apple has been labeled the most environmentally friendly technology company and it appears to be on a mission to create an eco-Xanadu in the suburbs of Silicon Valley, regardless of whatever anyone else is trying to build. When discussing the new campus in 2014, CEO Tim Cook said: “We are building a new headquarters that will, I think, be the greenest building on the planet.” Literally, apparently.

On its website, Apple says the lands around its new headquarters will eventually be filled with 9,000 trees—many of which will be varieties native to the area, such as oaks—and that the buildings will be powered entirely by renewable energy. It also says that it’s “recycling or reusing more than 95 percent of the material from the demolished buildings at the site by finding ways to repurpose virtually every piece of concrete, glass, and metal.”

Hopefully there won’t come a time that we see lines at garden stores like those that form at Apple stores around the world when a new iPhone is released.