Protecting the outdoors is a part of our mission at Timberland. And using renewable sources of energy is an important way to reduce our contribution to climate change. Since 2002, we’ve been steadily buying and creating more clean energy every year, and as of 2010, 13% of the energy at our owned and operated facilities is obtained from clean power sources.
So, just what are these sources? Well, there are a few. Timberland defines renewable energy as energy that’s sourced locally from wind, solar, and small-scale hydropower sources.
Some of Timberland’s largest facilities are our distribution centers (DCs). Due to their size, they’ve become the focus of our efforts for sourcing renewable energy.
Our European DC, located in Enschede, Holland, was our first distribution center to source renewable energy. The facility purchases 100% wind energy from their local utility. Since 2022, this has saved Timberland over 2,500 metric tons of carbon emissions to date.
Our Ontario, California DC followed in 2006 by building (at the time) one of the largest solar arrays in the state. The 400-kilowatt system provides approximately half of the electricity for this 500,000 square foot facility. From 2007 to 2008, this solar array cut energy costs and emissions at this facility alone by 13%.
And in Danville, Kentucky (the heart of coal country), Timberland supported three engineers who restored an old run-of-the-river hydro-power facility by purchasing renewable energy credits. While this energy came at a premium, the benefits far outweigh the cost. Purchasing clean energy credits in this region has saved us over 3,000 carbon emissions to date.
Our wholly owned factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic has particularly high Greenhouse Gas emissions because its power comes from fossil fuels that are imported into the country. Fortunately, it’s located in a region that maps well for wind power. So in 2005 we installed a small 5-kilowatt wind turbine to test its potential. It surprised even us by managing to spin on hot and humid days when nothing else seemed to move. While we continue to be excited about the potential of wind power, challenges in building large turbines on land we don’t own have been insurmountable. In the meantime, we’re working to identify other sources of less polluting energy.
In addition to designing stores according to LEED standards, we’ve investigated opportunities for on-site renewable energy in our stores. However, our stores typically have a small physical footprint (less than 5,000 square feet) and are located within department stores or malls, making on-site clean energy challenging. One solution has been purchasing renewable energy in bulk. By consolidating our energy purchases to one utility, we can afford to invest more in renewable energy. That’s a win-win for our bottom line and for the environment.
Although not part of the carbon footprint that accounts for our direct and indirect emissions, we’re constantly looking to invest in opportunities that bring clean, alternative energy to our suppliers worldwide. In 2010, we invested in a project in Shanyi County, China. China is an important region for Timberland, as much of our manufacturing takes place there. Our investment will support the development of a wind farm, which will stimulate grid-connected renewable energy technologies, decreased GHG emissions from fossil-fuel fired plants, and local employment opportunities.
We’re also empowering our Code of Conduct assessors to share Timberland’s successes in reducing emissions as well as purchasing renewable energy with our factories. This way, we can encourage responsible environmental management throughout our value chain – see the Reducing Emissions through our Supply Chain story for more details.
It’s all part of the bigger solution
Renewable energy alone won’t help us meet our emissions reduction goals. But it won’t get done without it. Slowly, we’re helping to start a conversation that can lead to more options for companies, suppliers, citizens, and consumers to reduce our collective carbon footprint. We’ll buy clean energy where we can. Generating clean energy ourselves will be our first priority, and reducing emissions outright is even more important. We know it’s going to take time and commitment, but the more we invest in it, the greater our successes will be.