At Columbia we are committed to mitigating our environmental impact in every aspect of our business. We are proud of the steps we have taken so far, realizing that we still have many more to take.
In 2009, we installed a 100 KW grid-tied solar electric system consisting of 570 photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof of our Headquarters building. This system will reduce our carbon impact by 2,002 tons over the next 25 yrs. Read what the Portland Business Journal thought about our solar panels: Portland Business Journal article.
Energy Efficiency at Facilities
Energy Management Systems - Our Rivergate Distribution Center implemented an Energy Management System that reduced conveyor belt energy usage by 23% . The Energy Management System consists of two projects; 1) installing programming logic code to enable ‘sleep mode’ for conveyor belts , and 2) installing Variable Frequency Drives (VFD). Read more.
Computerized Lighting Control Management - Our Computerized Lighting Control Management System at Headquarters shuts off lights when not in use, including after hours, weekends and holidays.
HVAC Environmental Controls Computer - Our Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system at Headquarters is controlled by an environmental controls computer. This system efficiently controls hours of operation and calculates when to turn on the AC or heating versus opening the economizers to cool the building with outside air.
LEED Certified Retail Stores
Our Portland Flagship and Seattle branded stores have earned LEED for Retail Commercial Interiors Certification. In addition, our Outlet stores have been retrofitted with energy-efficient lighting. Read more.
Our standard RFP for U.S. ground transportation services asks prospective providers to share information about their sustainability practices, among a large number of quantitative and qualitative criteria we evaluate during our vendor selection processes.
For example, we require all of our U.S. transportation providers to be members of SmartWay or to maintain a comparable environmental certification. We ask about the age of their fleet, to what degree they have adopted alternative fuels such as LNG and biodiesel, and for quantitative measures of their environmental impact such as fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. In 2012, we inserted new language in our RFP seeking disclosures about providers’ efforts to avoid high-impact fuels, such as those from Canada’s Tar Sands.
By including these topics in our standard RFP, we hope to raise mutual awareness of environmental hazards and sustainable best-practices, and to promote constructive discussions with our providers about making continuous improvement on these important issues.
Green Office Practices
We recognize the environmental impacts of daily actions and decisions. To support sustainable office practices, we encourage best practices throughout the company in the following areas:
- Purchasing Recycled
- Chemical Reduction
- Energy Conservation
In 2010, we implemented a “print release” system at Headquarters that decreases traditional print waste. Printers also default to double-sided printing. Read more.
Restricted Substances List
Our Restricted Substance List (RSL) is an integral part of our product creation process and our Environmental Health and Safety program. The goal of our Restricted Substance program is to protect workers, the environment and consumers from harmful substances. In order to do this, we maintain a comprehensive up-to-date RSL and require our suppliers to comply with these principles.
Eco-Conscious Product Attributes
The term eco-conscious implies awareness – awareness that every decision and action has an impact on the people and places around us. It’s also awareness that we’ve made progress and there’s more work to do. Our eco-conscious product attributes include materials or manufacturing processes that reduce environmental impact compared with conventional materials or methods. We use the following materials and processes in our products:
- Techlite™ - Techlite™ is a manufacturing process that produces only 5-10% EVA waste in comparison to conventional methods that produce 30-40% waste.
- Water-Based Adhesives - Adhesives are used to bond shoe parts together – upper to midsole, and midsole to outsole. Chemical solvent-based adhesives emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that can cause harm to workers and the environment. Water-based adhesives virtually eliminate emission of VOCs. Since 2009, we have reduced VOC emissions by 50%.
- Perimeter Stitch Technology - Perimeter Stitch Technology is a method of stitching an EVA midsole to the shoe upper. Stitching shoe parts together reduces the use of adhesives by almost half. The use of less adhesives results in a reduction of VOCs.
Apparel and Accessories
- Recycled Polyester - Polyester is a synthetic fiber derived from petroleum. Processing polyester from recycled materials (such as plastic bottles) reduces energy use and emissions, and decreases the need to mine non-renewable resources.
- Color-Core™ - Synthetic fabric dying process that uses 80% less water than conventional dying processes.
Outdoor Industry Collaboration
Columbia belongs to the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Eco Working Group. Working together, companies in the outdoor industry can have a much greater impact on environmental issues.
Apparel & Footwear Industry
Columbia is an active member of the Environment and Product Safety Committees of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, building a base of expertise from which to learn and share information and best practices.