3 Questions for Timberland’s Colleen Von Haden

3 Questions for Timberland's Colleen Von
Colleen Von Haden


This article has been amended to reflect results found in an independent audit of Timberland’s data. All figures below correspond to the findings.

Timberland keeps pushing green forward.

The Stratham, N.H.-based brand, a division of VF Corp., announced this month it had met the 2015 target set in 2007 for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The brand is also on track to meet the target set for using renewable energy to power operations.

Timberland said it had cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by the end of 2013, meeting its original goal to reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2015. The reductions are compared with 2006 levels.

The brand also beat its 2013 target to pull 23 percent of its energy from renewable energy, and just missed its 2014 target of 27% . In 2013, 26percent of Timberland’s energy came from such sources, with a 28 percent increase in clean energy usage in 2013 alone, vs. 2012.

But according to Timberland’s sustainability director, Colleen Von Haden, the brand isn’t slowing down. Here, Von Haden talks about what drove the cut-downs and what’s to come.

1. What made it possible to hit your target?

CVH: The 22 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions that we realized from 2012 to 2013 was primarily driven by increased use of renewable energy sources in Europe, at headquarters and in our distribution centers there. Energy procurement options continue to improve throughout the world. And wherever and whenever possible, we continue to increase our choices [of] renewable sources. We’ve also been focused on energy efficiency at our manufacturing plant in the Dominican Republic. [In 2013 the plant] successfully reduced the kilowatt hours of energy used to produce each pair of footwear by 8.2% by using energy-efficient lighting, equipment, variable speed motors, motion sensors, etc. And since 2008, we’ve been working on retrofitting the lighting in our distribution centers, headquarters and retail stores to help cut energy demand for those facilities by at least 30 percent. 

[For example], we replaced less-efficient incandescent spotlights in nearly all our North American stores with LED spotlights. The new bulbs consume 80 percent less energy — just 10 watts per bulb [compared with] an average of 56 watts per bulb. And several updates to our server room and desktop equipment procurement have helped cut our energy consumption over the last couple of years. These initiatives include converting our server power usage from 120 volts to 240 volts, which allows our computer equipment to use less energy. We have also decommissioned old equipment and purchased energy-efficient computers for our employees. By completing a server virtualization project, we have been able to reduce software and hardware needs, which also saves energy. And we optimized data center layouts to conserve air and coolant flow.

2. Your 2007 goals included all four of Timberland’s corporate social responsibility areas: factories, climate, product and service. What progress have you made in the other areas?
CVH:
 We are on track to hit nearly every target we had set for 2015, across all our CSR priority categories. One community engagement milestone we hit earlier this year was our 1 millionth service hour.

On the product side, 98 percent of our footwear leather volume was sourced from silver- or gold-rated tanneries, as rated by the Leather Working Group. Last year, we increased our use of recycled PET in our footwear by 64 percent year-over-year, diverting some 50 million plastic bottles from landfills in 2013 alone. Our grand total over time is 128 million bottles. On the factory side, 70 percent of our global footwear and apparel production was sourced from factories meeting “Level 3” criteria of Social Accountability International’s benchmark for best-in-class social/labor management systems, beating our 2013 target of 51 percent.

3. What areas will be next for Timberland?
CVH:
We will be continuing to focus on locations where, to date, we have not been able to successfully bring renewable energy or reduce energy consumption. [We see] opportunities at our stores in Asia and our plant in the Dominican Republic, and at our Stratham headquarters. Those are top of the list. We will be setting new targets for 2015 to 2020.