Our suppliers reduced GHG emissions by over 3,000 metric tons in the manufacturing of our products.
We seek to reduce GHG emissions wherever possible, from our supply chain to the transport of our products, in business travel and from the energy used in our facilities. We take the same approach in addressing emissions that we use in developing more sustainable materials for our products, focusing on strategies that make the biggest difference.
Supply Chain Emissions
Our life cycle assessment studies confirmed that the majority of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with our products’ life cycles occurs during the material production and manufacturing phase. As we work with dozens of factories on a contract basis, we do not track or report this information as part of our global greenhouse gas inventory. It is difficult for a given factory that works with many brands to track the energy used only during the days of our production runs and on the specific machines where our materials are being produced. Instead, we are working with the bluesign® standard to revolutionize our suppliers’ energy consumption. This is a key priority for us. In 2010, our initiative led some of our largest suppliers to achieve a reduction of 3,281 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing of our materials. This is equivalent to taking 643 cars off the road for a year. This video provides more detail on our work to address energy efficiency and emissions in our supply chain.
In 2007, we examined the data for our North American distribution centers, retail and outlet stores, product showrooms, warranty department, warehouse and headquarters and found that the highest GHG emitters were our U.S. distribution center (58% of total) and retail stores (24%). We have prioritized our energy efficiency investments in these areas.
Solar Energy and Energy Efficiency at our distribution center
- A 2009 solar panel installation at our Visalia, California distribution center now provides 25% of the energy needs for this 800,000 square foot facility and saves over 950 metric tons of CO2e per year. Five acres of Suntech RayTracker™ GC single-axis solar trackers are set in a water retention pond adjacent to the building allowing dual-use of the land. The ground-mounted solar tracking system is 24% more efficient than a traditional rooftop model. In addition to reducing emissions and yielding above-average energy production, this project, financed through a Power Purchase Agreement, saves us money and insulates us from energy cost and supply volatility.
- Audit and improvements. We completed an energy and operational efficiency audit of this same California distribution center and developed a plan to reduce energy use through three initiatives. The lighting project we will implement in 2011 will yield almost $150,000 in annual savings and will reduce CO2 emissions by 521 metric tons per year.
Our initial forays into the world of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building standards occurred in 2008 when we built our first LEED-CI (Commercial Interior) facilities — a store in Boise, Idaho and our Canadian headquarters in Montreal. The United States Green Building Council’s LEED building standards are an internationally recognized framework for green building design, construction and operation. While there may be a greater upfront cost for LEED construction, this money can usually be recouped through cost savings from reduced energy and water usage. We are currently designing a new LEED Gold United States headquarters that will be ready in 2012 and we are incorporating LEED principles into our design standards for new retail stores.
LEED-CI Silver Canadian Headquarters. Features include efficient light fixtures and both daylight and motion sensors that substantially reduce energy requirements. Efficient water fixtures reduced water usage by 41 percent compared to standard code buildings.
Building materials were locally sourced and selected based on their recycled content. The contractor also segregated and recycled as much construction waste as possible. We selected paints, adhesives, floor sealers and window coverings to ensure that employees are not exposed to harmful emissions. Other features include green space instead of additional parking spots and filtered water stations which effectively ban the use of single-serve water bottles in the facility.
A New Campus in California. Employee growth in our San Leandro, California headquarters has prompted plans to move to a new home in nearby Alameda in 2012. This is the perfect opportunity for us to develop a building that embodies our beliefs and values. A steering committee brought together more than two dozen employees to collaborate and contribute ideas on every aspect of the building related to the employee experience. A staff survey generated more suggestions and the opportunity to vote for key features.
The centerpiece of the building’s many energy-efficient features will be an efficient indirect/direct air-cooling system. The campus will produce a percentage of its own energy through photovoltaic awnings on the first and second floor windows. The project will also incorporate minimal water landscaping with native plants, and four electric vehicle-charging stations.
California Warehouse Upgrades. In 2009, we replaced thirty 400-kilowatt industrial light fixtures that were on continuously with efficient 206-kilowatt fixtures. Motion detectors will reduce energy use further to achieve an estimated 70% energy reduction in lighting.
Retail Store Design
With over one hundred stores worldwide and plans for significant growth over the next five years, our retail venues provide a highly visual and impactful way to put our environmental vision into practice and communicate our core values to shoppers. Our strategy calls for us to use the best possible methods for our business and for the environment. We focus on:
- Developing new stores using the latest sustainable retail building methods and practices.
- Improving the energy and water efficiency at all facilities.
- Managing waste at our facilities through aggressive recycling programs.
As part of our plan to reduce retail emissions ten percent by 2013, we improved the efficiency of the lighting at our stores. In 2010 we commissioned a study to identify additional opportunities for reducing retail emissions. The report highlighted eight stores where significant reductions could be achieved by focusing on lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC), and employee engagement. We will be evaluating these opportunities as part of our overall strategy to meet our reduction target.
New construction: Indianapolis prototype store. The Montreal and Boise construction projects gave us a solid base of knowledge about green building and the LEED criteria. Guided by LEED commercial interior (CI) standards, we unveiled a new store in Indianapolis in 2010 that will serve as the global prototype for all new retail construction. We are implementing as many of the LEED-CI criteria as possible. Achieving LEED-CI certification for all new stores remains a longer-term aspiration.
The Indianapolis store, located in a mall, has large, insulating windows that let in abundant natural light. To avoid installing floor coverings, the shop features glistening concrete floors that have been diamond-polished and sealed. Reclaimed wood covers the checkout area and the window platforms. Cairns constructed of rock, wood and metal separate the different store sections and include a topographic map of the local area. Other global prototype elements in our Indianapolis store include:
- Separate utility metering.
- Hand dryers in the restrooms (to avoid paper towels and associated waste).
- Motion sensors in restrooms.
- Energy Star appliances for break areas.
- Zero VOC paint.
Our Logistics Team aims to improve resource efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide excellent customer service. We prioritize the most energy-efficient modes of transportation and strive to work with carriers that utilize best practices. Our 2010 initiatives included optimizing our packaging infrastructure to pack more units per carton and working increasingly with freight companies that use trucks that run on environmentally preferable liquefied or compressed natural gas. As we prefer ocean transport, upgrading the efficiency and performance of our ocean carriers is a priority for us. We plan to join the Clean Cargo Association in 2012 which will give us access to industry best practices and improved tracking tools.
The GHG emissions associated with the international and domestic shipping of our products is an important factor in our overall carbon footprint. U.S. retail goods are shipped by ocean freight to Los Angeles or Long Beach in California and then trucked a short distance to the Visalia distribution center. Products destined for Canada are shipped to Vancouver, British Columbia and then have a much longer inland route by rail to our distribution center near Toronto, Ontario. Tracking this data and examining trends will aid our logistics team in pinpointing opportunities for improvement. A major focus for us in 2011 is improving our data system by extending use of the GT Nexus System globally. This automated system links to electronic data information (EDI) from our carriers and will increase data accuracy and improve transparency.