Aug 4, 2009
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Gap shrinks carbon footprint by 20 percent

Aug 4, 2009

Gap Inc. shrunk its carbon footprint by 20 percent over the past five years through lighting retrofits, sourcing renewable energy and an energy management program that targets energy-intensive stores.

Levi Strauss & Co, Gap
Photo : AFP/Jean-Pierre Muller

Its performance helped the San Francisco-based company exceed the goal it set as a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Leaders Program. Gap planned to reduce emissions by 11 percent between 2003 and 2008.

The company has focused on its energy use as part of a multi-pronged approach to reducing its environmental impacts, Gap explained in its latest social responsibility report released Friday 31 July. Other planks include reducing waste and advancing sustainable design and fabrics.

Gap formed its Environmental Council in 2008 to improve its performance in energy use, waste and sustainable design and cotton. The council is made up of senior executives and mid-level managers from all of its brands, representing functional areas such as logistics, real estate, marketing, trade compliance and merchandising. It meets quarterly to identify opportunities, share best practices, and engage senior leadership. The company joined the Ceres-led Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy in March to lobby Congress to pass progressive climate change legislation.

The company is currently undergoing an environmental footprint assessment scheduled for completion this year. The assessment will examine energy, water use, effluents and waste at more than 2,800 retail stores, transportation, seven distribution centers, 11 headquarters and five design studios. A second phase focusing on its supply chain will begin early next year.

By far, the company’s retail stores account for nearly 82 percent of its energy consumption in 2008. Between 2007 and 2008, Gap shrunk its average U.S. store energy consumption by 2.8 percent.

In 2008, the company installed a one-megawatt solar energy system at its West Coast distribution center in Fresno, Calif.

The company also shrank the amount of waste generated, leading to a drastic reduction in recycled materials. Gap expects a program being implemented that shifts to new containers at its distribution centers will cut its cardboard waste by 57,000 tons and save the company about $20 million annually.

In 2008, Gap introduced a new denim laundry policy that requires all suppliers to meet wastewater quality guidelines. All denim laundry locations participate; about 79 percent have passed requirements.


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