Our passion for the outdoors and responsibility to our stakeholders demand that we address one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time—climate change. Timberland aims to be part of the solution by reducing our energy demand, as well as procuring and investing in renewable energy. We define renewable energy as energy that is available from wind, solar, and small-scale hydropower sources.
Our goal is to help drive down energy demand for all facilities. One area of focus is our distribution centers, which are some of the largest facilities we operate around the world. Our first distribution center to source renewable energy is located in Enschede, Holland, which today gets 100% of its energy from wind power.
We have additional opportunity to purchase clean energy for our offices, showrooms, and retail stores—where the grid allows. Grid-renewable power from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland is more reliable than other locations, thanks to snow melt from the Alps, according to Alex Crawford, Timberland’s London-based European procurement manager. That power is run by cable to other countries in mainland Europe, such as Italy.
Crawford points out, however, that particular grid does not extend to island nations, like the United Kingdom, where Timberland’s European Headquarters (EHQ) is based. “We wanted to use renewable energy for a long time,” he explains, “but there wasn’t enough supply to meet the demand from businesses.”
Then, in 2010, the British government began investing heavily in renewable power, offering tax breaks and relaxing laws to encourage the creation of power from sources other than fossil fuel. “Power companies erected big wind farms out in the ocean off the coast of Britain, so within the last 18 months, the supply has increased dramatically,” Crawford says.
Timberland’s procurement and facilities teams in the U.K. jumped at the opportunity to support the company’s energy goals in their homeland. With the help of National Utility Services, an integrated energy solutions firm, we were able to consolidate energy suppliers, and now source energy from a single supplier for our EHQ location 20 miles west of London, and another supplier for all retail locations in the U.K. This consolidation has offered a financial benefit, as well as an environmental one: we can buy renewable energy in bulk, resulting in cost savings.
There was a certain amount of upheaval and expense in making the change, since all the meters needed to be replaced and a new reporting system had to be implemented to provide more accurate details about energy usage. Nevertheless, according to Crawford, as of August 1, 2011, nearly all of the energy used by Timberland in the U.K. is derived from renewable sources. “One of the great things about working for Timberland is that we always work as a team,” says Crawford. “Everybody pulled together to deliver this financially and environmentally beneficial result.”
Because of our focus on sourcing clean energy in Europe and elsewhere, Timberland met its goal of purchasing 15% clean energy out of our total energy usage in 2011. Going forward, we anticipate challenges as we look for opportunities to curb energy demand and emissions while still growing our business and expanding our international presence. Stay tuned to updates on Timberland’s Responsibility site for how we’ll tackle this challenge.