How Patagonia Built Their Distribution Center to Minimize Pollution!!!

Patagonia steps up their sustainability pledge by building a new distribution center that minimizes pollution! The company has long been known for their proactive stance on saving the environment. Their newest building goes above and beyond to take measure that care for the environment. Careful thought and planning went into the building process, as well as its maintenance plan.

Patagonia consistently focuses on the materials they use in their products and buildings. From their warehouses,  manufacturing, and distribution centers, to keeping a close eye on their supply chains. Patagonia has successfully branded itself as a pro-environment and CSR company!!! 

Patagonia has an entire website called “Footprint Chronicles” that details each step of its manufacturing process. Furthermore, the company is committed to purchasing Fair Trade Certified products, and focus on supporting the people who make their products.

Patagonia’s Mission Statement:

Build the best product, do no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis

Recently, Patagonia built a distribution center in the Reno Tahoe area that meets the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC)  LEED-certified standards. Of course, in order to obtain this certification, the Patagonia distribution center had to meet many strict criteria.

The specific areas include:

  • Energy savings
  • Water efficiency
  • CO2 emissions reduction
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts

In total, Patagonia’s goal was to construct a sustainable and green building because it is adjacent to the Truckee River. The water from this river is some of the purest in the world. 

This is because the water comes from Lake Tahoe, which is an alpine lake that is filled by snowmelt. Lake Tahoe is the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevadas and is home to a variety of wild animals. Some of its inhabitants include black bears and bald eagles.

With this in mind, an increase in Patagonia’s resource efficiency and reduction of environmental impact was critically important.  

In addition to including locally sourced and non-polluting materials, the company also created provisions to benefit the local wildlife.

2018-04-21 15.27.26

How Patagonia Minimized Pollution:

The Exterior of the Building:

  1. Stone pavers instead of asphalt–  Pavers help to reduce vehicle pollution by managing the stormwater runoff. Any oil or pollution that is left behind by cars drain into the dirt, which gets stuck in sand traps below the parking lot.
  2. Landscape using native plants– Local plants use less water and consume fewer fertilizers.
  3. Paint the exterior of the building using a light color pallet– Light colors reflect sunlight and decrease heat retention. Additionally, there is less of a need to cool the building during the summer months.
  4. Construct the building using locally sourced materials– Lastly, locally sourcing materials support the regional economy. More importantly, local materials do not need to travel large distances, which means a reduction in transportation fuel. Correspondingly, fewer miles creates less pollution.

The Interior of the Building:

  1. Patagonia recycles or salvages 75% percent of the construction waste– the construction process is one of the largest producers of waste. According to Earth911, the U.S. alone produces approximately 251 million tons of consumer solid waste annually. Unfortunately, less than a third of that goes to recycling centers. As much as 40 percent of this waste comes from construction projects.
  2. Little to no materials that contain VOC ingredients– Many paint products still contain harmful chemicals. Although lead paint is no longer in production, there are still quite a few toxic chemicals contained in paint formulas. As paint ages, it tends to chip and leach chemicals into the environment.
  3. Dimmed exterior lighting– Lastly, Patagonia uses dim lighting to limit light pollution. This benefits the local wildlife. Most notably, it is important for the many bird species in the area because light disturbs their sleep patterns.

Continued Processes:

  1. Nontoxic products- Furthermore, the company continues its pledge (past just the construction phase) by cleaning and maintaining the center with earth-friendly products.
  2. Recycle product-packing materials– As we all know, plastic is one of the harmful substances to our planet. Correspondingly, all plastic materials that are used at Patagonia are bundled together and sold to a company that repurposes it. The recycling company uses the plastic to build decks and patio furniture. Luckily, this gives the plastic a second life.
  3. Recycle and composts most of its waste– Fortunately, this is an action that many companies and households can take part in. Food waste can be composted and used to fertilize gardens! Why buy fertilizers that are composed of chemicals, when you can naturally fertilize your garden for free.

The new Patagonia distribution center is a model building for an environmentally sensitive structure. With this said, Patagonia is a great example of how a company can do the right thing, that makes good business sense. 

Patagonia a CSR Company:

Patagonia is a great example of a company that uses its supply and value chains to make an impact. Businesses can go beyond just donating money to charities to make a difference.

Patagonia uses CSR (corporate social responsibility) as a way to differentiate themselves from the many other clothing companies out there. Moreover, they see CSR as a good management practice and it has become a source of competitive advantage.

At first glance, it might seem that engaging in CSR might burden a company’s bottom line. But in fact, the opposite seems to be true. There are a number of studies that show that companies who engage in corporate social responsibility actually flourish.

After all, companies are made up of individuals within a community. Businesses can have a large impact on society, and it can be a great force for good. Companies should prioritize making meaningful changes with their actions.

Fortunately, there are many paths a company can take to approach and engage in CSR. There is no one-size-fits-all standard or best approach to making a positive impact. CSR companies go above and beyond to put its people and the planet first. Typically, the community sees this effort and rewards the firm with an increase in sales.

The Triple Bottom Line:

Companies should focus on their triple bottom line. That is their economic, social, and environmental performance. More now than ever, customers and shareholders are concerned with more than just profits.  It has become an expectation that businesses look out for our society.

Overall, the reduction of waste and use of resources benefits the firm because it reduces the cost of inputs. Yet another perk is that a reduction in expenses increases the profitability and efficiency of the business.

How can your company engage in CSR? Managers can select a few issues that intersect within its business niche. With that said, companies should focus on areas with an overlap between its goals and a topic that the local community is struggling with.

Moreover, companies should look for ways to incorporate social entrepreneurship and social corporate responsibility with a company’s economic or regulatory interests. In sum, the initiative will have longevity because it is in the company and the community’s best interest.


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Check Out Patagonia’s Green Distribution Center:


My Suggestions and Opportunities to Improve:

It is fantastic that Patagonia recycles many of their synthetic products (such as polyester). But many synthetic materials are made of plastic which is derived from oil.

Not to mention, when we wash synthetic materials small plastic particles leach out into the water. This water ends up in the ocean, and the fish we eat digest these particles. 

To reduce the use of these synthetic materials, Patagonia could use non-oil derived materials. Another solution is that the company could create a division that explores how to produce new kinds of durable materials. These materials would be formed from natural compounds or ones that can biodegrade.

Although synthetic materials have benefits such as heat retention and durability. Patagonia could hire a group of product/material engineers to develop strong and durable compounds. This way the company is not sacrificing quality for environmental sustainability.

Energy Consumption Versus Energy Creation:

Despite the fact that the company has made many efforts to use renewable and recyclable building materials, they did not implement any renewable energy methods of creating/producing electricity.

This means that they are pulling 100% of their electricity needs from the grid. In a prior blog post, I talked about how the grid derives the majority of its electricity from fossil fuels and coal.

One way to improve this awesome green building is to install solar panels and wind turbines. In other words, this would increase the structure’s energy independent or at least supplement the energy it uses from the grid.

The Reno Tahoe area has an abundance of renewable energy that just needs to be tapped into. The city receives approximately 300 days of sun per year and is located in a very windy valley.

Average sun.PNG

In sum, there are many ways to increase energy efficiency. We can integrate simple daily habits that will help us live in greater harmony with the environment. Are there any suggestion that you know of that could make this building better? If so, please comment below!


Photo Credit Average Daylight 

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