“Routes established as glacial climbs have melted out. Glaciers have receded leaving swaths of debris in their wake and peaks that were held together by permafrost are melting. The Himalaya will be affected by a warming climate in the coming decades. As its 5,000 glaciers melt, the rivers that flow from the mountains will cease to be perennial and become seasonal, threatening the water supply for the one-fifth of the world’s population that receives water from the Himalaya.
The North Face is committed to reducing its carbon footprint. From the solar installations at our facilities to the energy saving practices in our textile mills, we are constantly looking for ways to reduce our impact. It is more than ‘doing the right thing’ – it is our brand heritage.”
– Conrad Anker, Alpinist and The North Face Athlete
We have been tracking the greenhouse gas emissions from our U.S facilities to monitor our progress toward our five-year, 2013 goal of a 25 percent reduction in sales-normalized emissions. Despite major investments in renewable energy at our distribution center, our new headquarters in California, and in retail store retrofits, we achieved a 21 percent reduction, short of the progress we had anticipated. As our retail facilities are responsible for 67 percent of our total measured emissions, we needed greater reductions at these facilities to meet our goal. This proved difficult at our leased stores where we do not have as much control over infrastructure. While per store emissions dropped 5.4 percent, reflecting greater energy efficiency per unit sold, these reductions fell short of those needed for our five-year goal.
In Europe we continue to make strong progress. Working with our parent company VF Corporation, we have developed sustainability guidelines for our Real Estate, Retail Construction and Operations teams, which cover our facilities in EMEA. The guidelines have been developed following the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) construction list, and touch upon different areas, such as materials, energy and waste management. Most of our retail stores use LED lighting, sustainable and locally sourced materials and light & motion sensors. At present 61% of VF’s locations in Europe are running on green energy.
As we move ahead, we will continue to pursue opportunities at owned facilities and retail retrofits, however our focus is moving increasingly toward reducing impacts in manufacturing where our greatest impacts occur.
While reducing our direct energy footprint is our first priority, we have purchased offsets since 2007 for greenhouse gas emissions we have not yet been able to eliminate. These include emissions from our U.S facilities and employee commuting, as well as for the business travel for all North American associates. Since 2010 we have been offsetting the emissions generated from shipping our e-commerce products to customers. From 2010 to 2014 we partnered with GreenShipping and we now work with the non-profit Bonneville Environmental Foundation for our offsets. To offset the emissions from our owned and operated facilities, we also invest in Green-E Climate Certified carbon offsets and Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) through the non-profit Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
Since 2007, we have offset 100 percent of the emissions from our business travel and employee commuting through the Conservation Fund’s Go Zero® program. Go Zero offsets emissions by leveraging the carbon absorbing abilities of trees by planting and protecting forests in national wildlife refuges in the United States. From 2008 to 2013, our offsets removed almost 18,000 metric tonnes of CO2 through the planting of approximately 20,000 trees in the Lower Mississippi region. In our own backyard, we preserved 10 acres of California’s redwoods that will continue to trap carbon instead of being cut down.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honored our consistent offset of 100% of our U.S. energy use with Green Power Leadership Awards in 2012 and 2013. Noting that green power purchasing is an integral and important feature of the company’s sustainability strategy, the EPA also commended our climate education efforts through the Hot Planet/Cool Athlete program. The EPA also highlighted our promotion of green power usage to customers via signage at cash registers and in-store dressing rooms.
“We believe the success of our business is fundamenally linked to having a healthy planet.”
-Todd Spaletto, President, The North Face
With more than four decades in the outdoor retail business, we have a long-term view of our business and environmental priorities. In 2009, we joined other forward-looking companies in the Ceres Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) coalition to advocate for progressive climate change policies. Through our parent company, VF Corporation, we also report to the Carbon Disclosure Project to further communicate our efforts and to support our stakeholders’ desire for increased transparency.
We were one of the initial 33 signatories of the Climate Declaration in 2013 urging federal policymakers to tackle climate change. As of April 2014, 750 businesses had signed the Declaration, demonstrating to policymakers that the U.S. business community is ready for comprehensive climate change policies.