Betsy Blaisdell: A federal green energy policy everyone can support
We have a new tradition at Timberland. Each fall at our annual sales meeting, we do a little dance to bring on the snow.
It’s hardly an elegant sight, these few hundred men and women decked out in outdoors gear, self-consciously shimmying. But it comes from our hearts. Our daily livelihoods depend on the outdoors. And we’re worried. We see the effects of climate change — not only in our surroundings, but in our potential revenues. We don’t sell as many boots if the temperatures don’t plummet in November. We’re determined to protect our winters, and that starts with the way we run our business.
Since 2006, Timberland has cut our greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 46 percent. In the process, we have also cut costs, saving $150,000 a year alone by switching to LED lighting in our U.S. stores. We continue to cut our transportation-related emissions and are buying more renewable energy every year. As a result of these commitments, we are now on track to have 30 percent of our energy coming from clean, renewable sources by 2015.
To be sure, we know there is only so much one company can do. That’s why Timberland joined with BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy), Ceres and a group of 40 U.S. corporations including other big brand names like General Motors, Nike and Starbucks, in signing a Climate Declaration, to call on President Barack Obama and Congress to combat climate change. Last week, more than 100 ski areas joined our call.
“We cannot risk our kids’ futures on the false hope that the vast majority of scientists are wrong,” we wrote in the Declaration. And we believe that if addressed correctly, today’s energy and climate dilemmas offer our nation one of the greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century.
Together, the Climate Declaration signatories provide approximately 550,000 U.S. jobs and generate a combined annual revenue of more than $610 billion. Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy have affected several Climate Declaration signatories and exposed the United States’ economic vulnerability to climate change. We need solutions from policymakers that address these issues at a nationwide scale, while also strengthening the economy.
Energy efficiency is just one of those economic opportunities, as Timberland knows well. And with the introduction of major bipartisan energy efficiency legislation by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, there are signs that other businesses may benefit from smart policy action that reduces emissions and saves money. Their bill, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013, passed through committee earlier this year and is expected to go to vote soon. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, has also joined the bill as a co-sponsor, in a strong show of support from New Hampshire’s delegation.
The legislation would authorize new model building codes that will boost efficiency — and save money — in homes and businesses across the country. It would create a state-based private financing program for efficiency upgrades and establish a Supply Star program, modeled after the well-known Energy Star program, which would promote energy-efficient supply chains.
It also sets best practices for efficient energy use within the federal government, ensuring that Washington spends less on energy in the future.
Businesses understand that planning for a successful future takes investment today. Congress can start the nation on a better path by passing laws that will both protect our planet and grow our economy. We encourage lawmakers to embrace this opportunity, for the better of New Hampshire’s businesses and the nation’s.
Betsy Blaisdell is senior manager of environmental stewardship for The Timberland Company, headquartered in Stratham. Timberland is a founding member of BICEP, Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy, a project of Ceres, a business coalition working for sustainability.