Posts Tagged ‘energy efficiency’

How We Did – Timberland’s Emissions Reduction Story

In a sea of increasing claims of, “look how green my company is,” I’m proud to work at an organization that is credibly doing something to reduce our contributions to climate change. Our long-standing commitment to reducing our carbon footprint makes sense; our outdoor products are designed to be used in the very areas that we seek to protect and steward.

So how are we doing? Timberland recently achieved an absolute emissions reduction of 38% (for owned and operated facilities and employee air travel) over a 2006 baseline. We focus on absolute reductions because we are measuring the reduction in overall pollution caused by our business.  We achieved this industry-leading result by reducing our energy demand, investing in energy efficiency, and purchasing renewable energy. Overall, these strategies reduce emissions and save costs, making our climate change program a win-win for the environment and our bottom line.

For example, a variety of renovations and improvements made last year at our Stratham, NH (US) headquarters – including the installation of a white roof, more efficient lighting and high-efficiency HVAC systems – resulted in a reduction in energy demand and costs by more than 8%.  In many other Timberland facilities around the world, including our distribution centers in Ontario, CA, Danville, KY and Enschede, Holland, we’re able to generate or purchase renewable energy (directly or through credits) to help us greatly reduce our carbon footprint.  And on the retail side, all new Timberland stores are designed and constructed according to the USGBC’s LEED Retail standard, using an average of 30% less energy than our older store models.

These successes don’t come without challenges. For example, we’re comparing our current reductions to a 2006 baseline which was pretty lean to begin with (meaning we had made major reductions in our energy consumption prior to that time). Also, as we look to increase our use of clean energy, we know that infrastructure and incentives vary location to location, and we may not find the same options for generating or purchasing renewable energy at all of our locations worldwide.

We also are faced with the challenge that our business may grow in the coming years. While this is a good problem to have, it has significant implications for further reductions in our carbon footprint, such as new store openings around the world (which require more energy to operate) and an increase in employee air travel (which causes the most significant emissions within our current scope).

Despite these challenges, we’re committed to reducing the carbon footprint of our owned and operated facilities (and employee air travel) by 50% by the end of 2015. And we’re working to engage our factory partners, materials suppliers, and consumers to reduce their contributions to climate change as well. By diligently accounting for our own carbon emissions and sharing our learnings with others, we’re walking the talk as much as we can. If a company like Timberland can reduce its carbon footprint, others can too.

Please visit www.timberland.com/ClimateStrategy2011 to learn more about our accomplishments, challenges, and work within the supply chain, and http://community.timberland.com to engage with others on these issues.

Report Card: Timberland’s Social & Environmental Performance

Today, Timberland released our Q3 2010 CSR results. We issue quarterly reports about our social and environmental performance to be accountable for our impacts and progress towards forward-looking goals. As Timberland’s Strategy and Reporting Manager, it’s my job to collect all of this data and analyze its impact on the business. Are we on track to meet our goals? Are there areas we need to improve upon? We believe sharing both positive and (sometimes) negative results allows us to have a credible conversation with stakeholders – who in turn challenge and push us to reduce our impacts even further.

Here are some highlights from this quarter’s results, organized by Timberland’s Four CSR Pillars. Find the 1-page summary here, or check out the reports yourself by clicking on Reporting & Download tab of the new CSR page on Timberland’s online community.

ENERGY:

We achieved a 3% emissions reduction in Q3 2010 compared to Q3 2009. This achievement is due to energy efficiency improvements (LED lighting retrofits in our stores and energy efficiency improvements in our corporate headquarters) and additional stores in Europe purchasing renewable electricity. The continued decrease in emissions puts us close to our 50% emissions reduction goal.

PRODUCT:

We saw a slight increase in Green Index ® scores (7.28 in Q1 2010 vs. 6.61 in Q1 2009; higher scores demonstrate larger environmental impact) this quarter.  This is primarily due to scoring a greater range of products which include heavier, leather products that have a greater carbon footprint.  We are, however, happy to see a year-over-year improvement in chemicals and resources scores. This demonstrates our product teams’ increased focus on using water-based adhesives, as well as recycled, renewable, and organic materials, and reduced reliance on PVC.

WORKPLACES:

At the close of Q3 2010, 32% of our suppliers hold High Priority scores (compared with 27% of suppliers at the end of Q2 2010) primarily due to Wages and Working Hours.  With the economic situation improving (orders increasing) while labor shortages increase, we anticipate working hours to be a recurrent issue for many factories this year.  Our sourcing managers are working with more focus to regularly assess production capacities of their factories and make adjustments in orders or secure additional suppliers.

SERVICE:

Timberland employees served a total of 57,067 hours in the first three quarters of 2010, which represents a 5% decrease in hours served at the close of Q3 2009.  Continuing high demands on employees‘ time at our manufacturing facility in the Dominican Republic along with our distribution centers in Danville, KY and Ontario, CA led to a significant decrease in hours served as compared to this time last year.  However, in Q3 2010, employees in Europe, our Stratham headquarters, U.S. Retail and Asia posted gains in service hours.

How do you think we’re doing? Share your thoughts here on the blog or visit our online forum to share your thoughts on individual pillars.

Doing More to Make Less Impact

It always feels good when you stick to your diet … which is in essence what we’ve done to reduce Timberland’s greenhouse gas emissions (which includes Timberland owned and operated facilities and employee air travel) by 36% over our 2006 baseline.  Even better, we’re on track to reach our goal of a 50% emissions reduction by the end of 2010.

How did we get to the 36% reduction?  Primarily through increased energy efficiency at our retail locations, renewable energy procurement at our distribution facilities and decreases in employee air travel.  Here’s the skinny:

Retail: Timberland is the first company to achieve the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Retail certification for mall-based stores. All new Timberland® stores in North America are built to LEED specifications, and we achieved energy savings by installing state-of-the-art LED lighting in nearly all of our US stores.

Distribution Facilities: By the end of 2009, we sourced approximately 12% renewable energy globally. We use primarily solar power in our Ontario, CA, distribution center and a full 100% wind power at our Enschede, Netherlands site. And in 2009, our Danville, KY distribution center began purchasing locally-produced renewable electricity.

Employee Air Travel: By asking employees to consider alternatives to travel and prioritizing alternative options (including the use of virtual presence and Web conferencing), we’ve been able to reduce the amount of air travel employees use.

Proud as we are of this progress, we realize we’ve still got a long way to go.  Since a large portion of our emissions come from within our supply chain (which we don’t directly control), we’re working hard with our suppliers to help them assess their own energy consumption and implement energy-efficiency strategies.

A press release further detailing our emissions reduction and other highlights of our CSR performance can be found on the Timberland website.

Mr. Swartz Goes to Washington

Yesterday afternoon, I found myself in an unusual place for a Thursday afternoon–at the White House, in a suit.  Not sure I shouldn’t have dressed in Timberland jeans and boots; would have been a whole lot more comfortable.  The setting was a small group of CEOs–principally, utility and power company execs, big hitters all of them, a total of 7 “business leaders” meeting with heavyweights in the Administration, at their request, to discuss ways to advance climate and clean energy legislation.  No, not joking–power company execs and the Administration, talking cap and trade.  Despite the fact I was wearing a suit, you could tell the difference between the big boys and the bootmakers; their DC lobbying staffs seemed as big as our sales force is–nationally.  But a certain amount of “gee whiz, what are we doing in the room with these big guys” aside, I was proud to be at the table.  For 20 years, we’ve been working at building a business model that says we can earn real profit for shareholders, while living a passion for preserving the place where we and our consumers love to recreate.  Sustainability is the current language–we called it, “running a responsible business that serves the outdoors.”  Call it what you will–it was good to be at the table.  While the numerous and serious utilities represented around the table might have money to lose in this environmental battle, what we have at stake is our entire livelihood.

It was an impressive group and an important opportunity … and served as an interesting case study of the chaos of democracy.  We spent too much time on discussion about The Bill before the House, and how to get it passed, and then how to get it through the Senate.  A fascinating civics lesson, a wild opportunity to see how government really works–I listened to one power exec explain that while they were sure glad to be working to get this bill passed, they wanted to make dead sure the Administration knew that what they wanted in return was the government’s support for new nuclear plants.  Hmn.  Horse trading in a fancy room at the White House.  For what it is worth, while they talked “deal,” and I listened intently, I also spent some time staring at the fancy chandelier.  Full of incandescent light bulbs.  At the White House.  Do we need nuclear plants? Maybe, maybe not–I’m a bootmaker, not a policy maker–but I know with certainty, if the White House would change the light bulbs, and install low flush urinals in the men’s rooms (I visited–antique plumbing, and paper towels to dry your hand!), they would model a more real world kind of leadership.  The very best solution to energy policy is…use less.  Conserve more.  Change the darned light bulbs in the chandelier.  If everyone would do what they can do, then–maybe less horse-trading legislative support for a complicated law that may or may not work, in return for nuclear plants that may or may not be good for the world…

I made no friends with the powerful power folks when I got to speak for a moment; when the political leaders asked what we thought of the legislation, I told the truth–that the law got watered down big time by horse trading, to a 17% reduction in carbon emissions, and now involves giving away a ton of “get out of jail free cards” to the worst polluters.  I pointed out the inconvenient truth–that over the last 2 years, compelled not by policy but by common sense, led not by theory but by a desire to run a more profitable and sustainable business, Timberland has cut our carbon emissions by 27%.  Hmn.  They keep talking, and we keep cutting, saving money, building more sustainable products.  Our approach wasn’t mandated or designed by committee, it was the result of a sound business model coupled with passion for the outdoors and desire to preserve our business.  It’s not nuclear power plant science, it’s just good bootmaking business.

In the end, I went home optimistic sort of, and resolute for sure.  The good news is, the imperfect process of democracy is the greatest form of vibrant political discourse known.  And it works.  We are going to get climate change legislation, which is imperfect as heck but hey–we know that perfect is the enemy of the good, and we also know, you have to be in the game if you want to compete.  So–this law is better than nothing.  And the law is really just a clarion call to say–time to get to work.  We have to make backroom legislative deal-making Washington-born policy consumer relevant.

Imagine.

Consumers /citizens want to do the right thing.  They count on their elected representatives to make good policy, and they expect brands and businesses to play fair and do right.  And then they can live the lives we all want.  And when it comes to climate change, that is what they want–simple and clear ways to buy the goods and services they desire, in a fashion that won’t destroy their planet.  Legislation putting the real price of carbon into the economy is a step in that direction.  But only a step.  Now, brands have to get into the game–to help consumers make the easy and good choices they want and expect.

Bootmaker goes to Washington, learns a lot, leaves with the optimistic sense that the government is trying to do its bit, leaves also with a renewed and reinforced understanding that government is necessary, but not sufficient.

Calling all CEOs.  You can reduce your costs, increase your profits, delight your consumers and your shareholders.  And, help preserve our environment.

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland