Apple opened its newest data center in August, Signal Butte and Elliot roads in Mesa, making it one of the largest facilities of its kind in the country and world.
The $2 billion headquarters is a repurposed 1.3 million square-foot building, featuring a labyrinth of hallways and a multitude of server hallways. The plan to create the new center has been years in the works.
“The city of Mesa has been working with Apple for five years to bring the facility to the city,” Mesa Mayor John Giles said. “The first time we started talking with Apple was when they purchased the building to lease it to one of their contractors, and that was over four years ago, which was used by GT Advanced Technologies to produce the glass for the iPhones and iPads, but they ultimately failed to produce at the quality Apple wanted,” Giles explained.
The economic impact has already been felt on the Elliot Road Technology Corridor in east Mesa. “ Mesa has been a great place for technology companies from an infrastructure standpoint because of the electric companies investing heavily into that area and along with the stable weather conditions, which is ideal for data centers so their operations are not interfered with,” Giles said.
According to Giles, more companies are investing in the area as a result of the new Apple headquarters.
Giles said Mesa is ready for global competition, especially now, with Apple’s ‘Mission Control’ global command center in the eastern part of the city. “A new venture the city,” Giles said, “[the city] has the right to brag about.”
Among the benefits of having Apple’s latest mega facility in the city is that it runs on clean, renewable, energy.
“Apple has core values that they firmly believe in such as energy use and human rights among other things,” Giles said. “The roof of the building is covered in solar panels that helps run the facility, but the amount that have on the roof was not enough to power the entire building so they had a smaller solar panel array installed in the parking lot on site to keep up with the amount of power the servers need.”
Giles explained, Apple worked closely with SRP to build an energy efficient building using energy from Bonnybrooke Solar Farm in Florence. The solar panels Apple built in the parking lot was in addition to the 15-megawatt station SRP is supplying.
Another impact on the local economy has benefited with the added jobs since the data center opened. There are approximately 300 employees working for Apple, on top of another 200 employed contractors/sub-contractors working on additions and construction inside the building.
Although Apple does not release full details about all operations inside, Giles explained that the Mesa facility is headquarters for Apple’s other five data centers in the country.
Andrew TerHark is a journalism student at Mesa Community College.