Climate Change Strategy
Taking responsibility for our footprint
Few issues affect The North Face as deeply as climate change. Our athletes, customers and employees are seeing firsthand the negative impacts of climate change in their expeditions and everyday lives, from melting glaciers and droughts to decimated forests and alterations in wildlife habitats. We have a responsibility to ensure the long-term health of our playgrounds for future generations.
From employee travel to athlete expeditions, retail locations and distribution centers, our daily business activities result in greenhouse gas emissions. We have established goals and strategies to continually measure and reduce these impacts. In addition to corporate energy reduction and efficiency initiatives, we’ve joined forces with strategic renewable energy partners to accomplish these goals.
Seeing is believing, glacial melting via time lapse photography
Our concern about climate change led to the identification of greenhouse gas reduction as one of the four focus areas of our sustainability program. The effects of a warming climate – shrinking polar ice caps, receding Himalayan glaciers and thawing permafrost can be observed most dramatically in some of the most inaccessible places on earth. Through time-lapse photography, the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) is bringing dramatic evidence of the ongoing retreat of glaciers and ice sheets to a wide audience. The EIS has 28 cameras monitoring 16 glaciers in the world’s most extensive ground-based photographic glacier study.
For the past few years, we have supported the EIS cause by providing the teams with cold weather apparel and gear. In Spring 2010, we extended our support of this unprecedented glacial survey by bringing together EIS and Conrad Anker - one of our global athletes - to take this effort to an iconic landscape by installing five time-lapse cameras that will survey the Khumbu and Nare Glaciers at Mount Everest.
Quantifying our impact
At The North Face, the greenhouse gases we add to the atmosphere come almost exclusively from our energy use. This includes the energy involved in processing raw materials, the manufacturing and transporting of our products, and the energy we use to heat and cool our facilities. Business travel and commuting contribute additional energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.
We formally report our emissions to two organizations and follow globally accepted methods for calculating and reporting greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2007, we have been working with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Climate Leaders Program (CLP)* to measure and report the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint from our U. S. operations. We have also been reporting our global emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project since 2009 through our parent company VF Corporation.
Becoming more energy efficient and sourcing renewable energy
We seek to reduce greenhouse gas (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 are taking the same approach that we use in developing more sustainable materials for our products, focusing on strategies that make the biggest difference.
In 2008, we examined the data for our North American distribution centers, retail and outlet stores, product showrooms and head- quarters, 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.
A one-megawatt 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 carbon dioxide emissions per year.
Investing in renewable energy where we cannot currently reduce
We offset the emissions we cannot currently reduce generated by facilities energy use, employee commute and travel, and customer product shipping. We invest in wind energy through Green-e Energy Certified Renewable Energy Credits and Green-e Climate Certified renewable energy based Carbon Offsets from the nonprofit Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to offset 100% of our North American operations energy use.
Employee Travel & Commute
We also offset 100% of our U.S. headquarters employees’ business travel and daily commute through the Conservation Fund Go Zero program. Business travel includes air flights, hotel stays and car rentals. Our offsets plant trees in areas in desperate need of habitat restoration.
Some businesses allow internet shoppers to offset the carbon emissions associated with the shipping of their purchase. At The North Face we provide this for free through our partnership with GreenShipping.com. As consumers are increasingly shopping online, our e-commerce group’s sustainability initiatives can make a major impact. Green Shipping uses our offset payments to fund renewable power projects through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Learn more about your own carbon footprint and what you can do to offset with our custom calculator.
Pushing for meaningful energy and climate legislation
For 45 years, we have been equipping pioneering athletes for expeditions that explore the boundaries of our natural world. This gives us a long-term view of our business and of our environmental priorities. Reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions can only take us so far in protecting our natural world; we need to move faster and reach farther.
As outdoor enthusiasts and leaders in the business community, we must add our voices to those who are pushing for meaningful energy and climate legislation. Partnering with the forward-looking companies in the Ceres Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) coalition gives us an effective vehicle for advocating progressive climate change policies.