VF has succeeded in reducing its energy use and carbon footprint

VF has succeeded in reducing its energy use and carbon footprint

US clothing giant VF Corp, owner of The North Face and Timberland brands, has expressed confidence the company is building a "solid roadmap" for sustainability as it continues to make strides on its renewable energy goals. 

In an update by the group's vice president of global corporate sustainability, Letitia Webster said VF has succeeded in reducing its energy use and shrunk its carbon footprint significantly in recent years.

In December last year, the company pledged to use 100% renewable energy by 2025 at its owned and operated facilities - around 2,000 of them in over 75 countries, including VF's manufacturing plants, distribution centres, retail stores and corporate offices. 

"It's a bold commitment," Webster says. "And it will take a continuum of options to succeed, ranging from basic energy efficiency efforts, to investing in our own renewable energy projects, to procuring renewable energy in deregulated markets, to power purchasing agreements and renewable energy credits."

In 2011, VF set a goal to reduce the company's carbon by 5% in five years. Webster says VF has surpassed that goal and saved more than US$25m in the process. More recently, in May 2016, the company signed the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers' Principles, along with other leading brands including Gap Inc.

The Principles is a joint initiative between World Resources Institute, the World Wildlife Fund and the Renewable Buyers Alliance to help scale and expedite the transition to renewable energy in the US. It provides a unified business voice to the utilities, regulators and service providers and a set of principles outlining our desire for greater choices in the options we have to procure renewable energy.

VF has now converted a number of its facilities to renewable energy sources. In its Visalia, California, distribution centre, around 25% of the energy is powered by solar panels, saving the equivalent of more than 585 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. VF's international headquarters in Stabio, Switzerland, uses 100% renewable energy, 10% of which comes from solar panels. 

In Germany, half of VF's facilities purchase 100% renewable energy. The rest is purchased from external renewable sources, including hydroelectric and wind. And, the group's Outdoor and Action Sports headquarters in Alameda, California, home to The North Face, Lucy and JanSport brands, are powered by 100% renewable energy and often are net positive, selling excess back into the grid for profit.

Indeed, last month VF achieved LEED platinum certification for its international headquarters in Switzerland. The certification, from the US Green Building Council (USGBC), is awarded for buildings that are energy efficient and environmentally sustainable in design and operation.

VF International HQ achieves LEED certification

"Inevitably, there are constraints and challenges," says Webster. "In the US, each state and region has different policies and programmes we will have to navigate. Internationally, there are many unknowns about how various countries will transition to renewable energy. It will take time to get to the right answers, but I'm confident we are asking the right questions and working with the right partners.

"Some of the hardest work is still ahead as we push toward our goals. However, we are building a solid roadmap to bring our renewable energy promise to life – for everyone around the world."