“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
The North Face equips explorers to push their limits so they can experience the thrill and joy of the unknown. What we do know is that 97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is human caused and is having an adverse affect on our planet. We were built on a love for the outdoors and it’s in our heritage to protect the places we love to play. Addressing climate change is not only good for the planet, it’s good for business. Our athletes travel to some of the most remote places on the planet and they have seen firsthand the effects of climate change. Glaciers are receding and permafrost is melting. The winter ski season is changing dramatically and once in a lifetime events such as storms, fires, and floods are occurring much more often.
We believe that the success of our business is fundamentally linked to having a healthy planet. With five decades in the outdoor retail business, we have a long-term view of our operational impacts 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. We were one of the initial 33 signatories of the Climate Declaration in 2013 urging federal policymakers to tackle climate change. More than 1,000 companies across the country have signed the Declaration, demonstrating to policymakers that the U.S. business community is ready for comprehensive climate change policies.
In December 2015, we wrote an op-ed, “Washington Must Act on Climate Change,” calling for impactful action to address carbon emissions. We support the Paris Climate Agreement and are a signatory of the Business Backs Low-Carbon USA statement. The statement asks our elected U.S. leaders to strongly support:
1. Continuation of low-carbon policies
2. Investment in the low carbon economy
3. Continued US participation in the Paris Agreement
While reducing our direct energy footprint is our first priority, we have purchased offsets since 2007 for greenhouse gas emissions we haven’t yet eliminated. 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 offset the emissions generated from shipping e-commerce orders to our customers. From 2010 to 2014 we partnered with GreenShipping and we now work with the non-profit Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to manage 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 BEF.
Since 2007, we have offset 100 percent of the emissions from our business travel and employee commuting through The Conservation Fund. The Fund leverages the carbon absorbing abilities of trees by planting them and protecting national wildlife refuges to offset carbon emissions. From 2008 to 2016, our offsets removed almost 48,520 metric tonnes of CO2 by planting approximately 37,000 trees in the Lower Mississippi region and helping to protect California’s redwoods in our own backyard, at the Garcia River, Big River, and Salmon Creek Forests. This is equivalent to removing the emissions from 10,249 passenger vehicles driven for one year. In addition to trapping carbon, the protection and restoration of forests provides habitats for wildlife, filtered drinking water for communities, boosts local economies, and offers special places to recreate. In 2018 we began offsetting the emissions of our athletes' expeditions through tree planting at Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas.
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. We were also commended for our climate education efforts through our partnership with the Hot Planet/Cool Athletes program. The EPA also recognized our promotion of green power usage to customers via signage at cash registers and in-store dressing rooms.
Hot Planet/Cool Athletes
Hot Planet/Cool Athletes connects high school and middle school students with our most powerful messengers – our athletes. Through a partnership with Protect Our Winters, our professional athletes share firsthand accounts of how climate change is affecting their sport, making climate change easy for students to understand. The empowering multi-media presentation also offers tools for taking action. Since 2011, 18 of our athletes, like Kit Deslauriers and Jimmy Chin, have reached 35,000 high school and middle school students in fifteen states and Canadian provinces. If you would like to have an athlete visit your school, email Hot Planet/Cool Athletes to place a request.
We track greenhouse gas emissions from our U.S. facilities to monitor our progress toward emissions reduction. Despite major investments in renewable energy at our distribution center, our new headquarters in California, and our retail store retrofits, we achieved a 21 percent reduction in 2013, falling short of our 25 percent reduction goal. Since our retail facilities are responsible for 67 percent of our total measured emissions, we needed greater reductions at these facilities to meet our goal, however this is difficult at 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 still fell short.
As we move ahead, we continue to pursue opportunities at owned facilities and with retail retrofits, however our focus is increasingly moving toward reducing impacts in manufacturing where the greatest impacts occur.