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Timberland Cuts Carbon 38%, Shy of Goal

Timberland has cut its carbon emissions by 38 percent in four years – but missed a 50 percent reduction target, which it is now pushing back to 2015.

The outdoor shoe company achieved the reduction for its owned and operated facilities and employee air travel, according to a climate strategy update. Timberland reduced its carbon emissions from 25,599 tons in 2006 to 15,889 tons in 2010.

The company said it made the reductions through LEED design standards for its stores, lighting retrofits, green IT initiatives, renewable energy sourcing and other means. Changing the lighting at distribution centers, headquarters and retail stores has cut the energy demand of those facilities by at least 30 percent, Timberland said.

The company has converted server power usage from 120 volts to 240 volts, bought efficient computers, virtualized servers and optimized data center layouts to conserve coolant flow.

But Timberland missed its target to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2010.

“While our goal of 50 percent emissions reduction was bold and almost impossible to achieve back when we established it in 2005, we came close to meeting that target in 2010,” the report said. “One challenge we did not plan for was record temperatures (highs and lows) in several regions, which led to an increase in energy consumption for either air conditioning or heat.”

Another challenge was air travel, Timberland said. The company was able to halve emissions from air travel from 2006 to 2009 as a result of the recession. As the business rebounded in 2010, it experienced a large increase in travel by air.

Contract issues kept the company from procuring renewable energy in the amounts it had envisioned, and a solar project for company headquarters is still under financial review, Timberland said. In addition, a telepresence project was cancelled because of cost and worries that it would not meet all of the company’s needs.

Timberland noted that it has exceeded recommendations by the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability, which challenges corporations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020, from a 2005 baseline.  The roadmap is based on scientific targets that call for the U.S. to achieve GHG emissions reductions of 80 percent below 1990 baseline levels by 2050, and 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

The company has decided to move its 50 percent target to 2015, to accommodate the rapid growth of the business. “Of greatest concern is finding new opportunities to curb energy demand and emissions while growing our business. As we open new stores and expand our international presence over the next five years our emissions will also grow,” the report said.

Timberland aims to keep emissions steady at 15,889 tons through the end of 2012, then hit a 40 percent reduction in 2013 and 45 percent in 2014. Programs being explored include LED lighting retrofits for overseas stores, development of technologies to reduce air travel, bulk renewable energy procurement for U.S. and U.K. stores, and emissions reductions or renewable energy purchases for its Dominican Republic factory.

It will also begin reporting carbon intensity data in 2011, to better illustrate improvements in carbon efficiency, Timberland said.

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