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Timberland Cuts GHGs 38%, Falls Short on Aggressive Goal

<p>Record temperatures and an increase in business travel as the economy recovered crimped the outdoor gear company's plans to halve its 2006 carbon footprint by 2010.</p>

Aggressive energy efficiency, increased green power and a commitment to green building helped Timberland reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 38 percent in five years.

But record temperatures and an increase in business travel as the economy recovered crimped the outdoor gear company's plans to halve its 2006 carbon footprint by 2010. Other projects that would have further cut Timberland's greenhouse gas emissions, including a solar energy installation and investment in videoconferencing, were delayed, Timberland said this week in an update of climate strategy and progress (PDF).

"As an outdoor company, climate change affects our business," Timberland said in the report. "If our consumers can't use our products in the outdoors based on changes in weather, we can't be profitable. We see reducing our contribution to climate change as a commerce and justice solution. We're committed to protecting the environment and believe this will also help us drive bottom-line business results."

According to the company, high and low record temperatures led to increased use of air conditioning and heating in 2010. At the same time, business rebounded in late 2010, sparking a boost in business travel and related emissions. Both factors contributed to the challenge of meeting its 2010 climate goal.

Timberland extended this goal of reducing 2006 emissions by 50 percent to 2015, which it says is still an ambitious goal because of its plans to open new stores and expand its international presence in the next five years. Timberland will also report carbon intensity information to gauge improvement in efficiency.

LED lighting retrofits in overseas retail stores, bulk procurement of renewable energy and further improving the energy efficiency of its buildings are all part of the company's war chest to achieve its new 2015 goal. But the company also realizes that emissions generated its own operations represent just a sliver of the total carbon footprint of its products. As a result, Timberland is working with its vast value chain to improve environmental performance and develop environmentally-friendly materials and processes. The company launched a environmental "nutrition label" for its products in 2006.

"Materials account for at least 70 percent of our product footprint," said Emily Alati, Timberland's senior manager of materials development. "Materials such as Green Rubber (42 percent recycled rubber) and Bionic Canvas (32 percent recycled PET) are examples of material developments where we've been able to increase the recycled content significantly while maintaining the material properties and aesthetics."

The company bought carbon offsets to neutralize the emissions that it couldn't reduce directly. In 2005, Timberland pledged to go carbon neutral by 2010.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user suneko.

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