Apple CFO Oppenheimer Says New Carbon-Balanced ‘Campus 2’ Will Foster Collaboration

“We can’t wait to get our people closer together, we’re a very collaborative company. One of the beauties of Apple Campus 2 is that it will be walkable. It will be great for us to innovate in for decades to come,” said Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer about plans for the company’s new ‘Campus 2’ in Cupertino. The plans were approved in a meeting yesterday and the Cupertino City Council tweeted out a video of the press conference this morning.

Oppenheimer was asked a few questions by press, including how he thought the money spent on the campus would be justified.

“The innovation that I believe that will come with the team, particularly in the collaborative environment that we’re going to build will be immeasurable,” said Oppenheimer. “We have built the building to be very walkable. You might begin your day in one part of the building and as the day progresses you might find yourself in another part of the building working with other teams.”

“It’s a very collaborative culture, and spontaneous conversations are very important to what we do. This building will really foster that,” he concluded.

Oppenheimer’s responses were interesting, but even more-so when you consider that Apple has been talking a lot about ‘collaboration’ lately. The past 12 months have, in some ways, been all about the word collaboration. Last October, just 12 days shy of a year ago, Apple launched a re-organization that saw the exit of software chief Scott Forstall, Jony Ive’s installation as a head of human interface and several other moves. The title of the press release? Apple Announces Changes to Increase Collaboration.

The hardware, software and services trifecta that Apple has been (in some ways) leveraging to make the iPhone and iPad such popular devices, had been growing increasingly tough to maintain. Power bases inside the company and silos of individual ‘followings’ had grown into roadblocks to progress in the wake of Apple founder Steve Jobs’ death in 2011. Those changes were designed to put a clear person in charge of each of those areas, and to make sure that those people could then work together.

That Oppenheimer is using the phrase ‘collaboration’ could indeed simply be taken as PR positioning (and it should to a degree), but it seems to be a theme with Apple lately. One that we’re seeing at the hiring level, the executive suite level and even when it comes to how it constructs its headquarters.

Notably, Oppenheimer said that Apple would not be exiting the old campus when the new one was completed.

“In a little over three years when we occupy the new campus, we’ll see where we are in terms of total space needs,” he told the press. “We will continue to occupy our current campus just down the street and many other buildings in Cupertino, and we’ll see what our needs are beyond that in three years.”

Currently, Apple HQ is overcrowded, with many workers sharing cubicles inside engineering groups. This has been the case since at least 2009, and is only more so now as Apple has grown its employees worldwide to over 72,000. If you back out the roughly 42,400 full-time Retail employees and those in overseas corporate offices, that’s still a lot of people to house.  The new headquarters is set to house some 14,200 employees in its initial construction, so if Apple plans to keep existing buildings then it appears that it plans to continue growing rapidly. In 2012 alone, it grew by 12,400 employees.

Oppenheimer was also bullish on the environmental state of the new headquarters, much of which had been discussed in the published plans.

“It will be the most environmental-friendly building of its size, we think, that’s ever been built or will be built, beginning with energy,” he says. “We are going to make over 70% of the electricity that Apple Campus 2 will use on site with solar and fuel cells. And we will get the remaining energy that we need in California through green sources.”

“There won’t be one atom of carbon emitted into the environment as a result of operating Apple Campus 2,” Oppenheimer added, noting that they would be water efficient as well, and would return the 175 acre site to its ‘natural state’.

One reporter at the press event also seems fairly insistent on asking Oppenheimer about whether Apple thinks that the new HQ could be ‘repurposed’ when the company (inevitably?) fails. “Could it be subdivided,” the reporter queries.

Oppenheimer restrains himself admirably from reminding the reporter that Apple’s $146B cash hoard could coast it safely through the next few decades even if it decided to cease manufacturing, well, anything.

In conclusion, Oppenheimer telegraphed the personal nature of the project, which was presented to the council by Jobs before his death, a presentation that you can see here.

“All of us at Apple are putting tremendous energy and love into this, just as he did,” said Oppenhiemer. “We are humbled by the task of completing it and his vision and his legacy for the campus of Apple.”