Wired has an interesting profile today on Lisa Jackson, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency who joined Apple in June last year to oversee environmental issues. The publication joined Jackson as she traveled to Apple’s new data center outside of Reno, Nevada, and through the interview offers some interesting insight into what Jackson is trying to accomplish at Apple. The interview with Jackson is landing just as Apple is set to celebrate Earth Day tomorrow and make some new environmental related announcements:

The teams Jackson works with at Apple tackle product related issues such as the materials which make up Apple’s devices (they must require minimal energy to extract, be as recyclable as possible, and be free of conflict minerals); the packaging that strives for the X-ray thin-ness of an iPad side view; and the manufacturing process, where Apple attempts to suppress the wasteful instincts of suppliers and partners in countries like China. Spending a day with Jackson entails considerable discussion of progress the company has made in these domains, as well as an acknowledgement of what needs to be done. (She agrees with Greenpeace that there’s plenty of work to do in China.)

Since last checking in, Jackson said Apple is approaching its goal of powering all its facilities on 100 percent renewable energy. It’s now at 94 percent renewable energy in its data centres and corporate campuses. That’s up from the 75 percent it reported on its renewable energy website just a couple days ago and 35 percent in 2010. Apple’s next goal for renewable energy will be for its retail stores and it’s about to announce it’s already powering 120 of its over 400 stores with renewable energy. All the locations are in the U.S. and include some of its flagship locations like the Fifth Avenue store and Palo Alto. 

The next step is to extend the efforts to its retail stores…In this accounting, Apple does not include the manufacturing, transport, and use of its actual products, which accounts for 98 percent of its carbon footprint. Still, its accomplishment on facilities, particularly data centers, is significant… Apple is announcing that more than 120 of its American stores are powered solely by renewables, including flagship sites like Palo Alto, Chicago’s North Michigan Ave, and New York’s Fifth Avenue.

The full piece is an interesting read on Apple’s new head of environmental initiatives and includes more on Jackson’s first day (and traditional lunch with Tim Cook), Apple’s new and upcoming efforts at its data center and solar operations, and much more. Apple looks to be updating its Renewable Energy page with the new stats as we speak and just launched a new Environmental website with updated stats, videos of its data centers and new campus, and a letter from Lisa Jackson on Apple’s environmental initiatives.