Patagonia: Green Visionaires

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Solar Panels at Patagonia’s Ventura-based campus

By Maryann Ridini Spencer

Patagonia Clothing is a Ventura-based company and designer of durable, multi-functional, quality, outdoor clothing and gear.  In 2013, Patagonia celebrates their 40th anniversary and commitment to providing superior products as well as their ongoing commitment to the environment.

“Patagonia has had a  corporate culture focused on environmental preservation since it was founded by the Chouinards in the early 70s,” said Elissa Loughman, Corporate Environmental Specialist for Patagonia.  “The company works hard to make sure the business is as environmentally responsible as possible.  That responsibility spans from our products and the factories we work with, to shipping and operations at our Ventura headquarters, and other offices, warehouses and stores worldwide.”

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“The projects we work on vary from day to day,” said Loughman.  “We’re constantly exploring how to be more environmentally friendly.”

Patagonia began as a California-based business and the company occupies a home base in Ventura. “We live and work in this community,” said Loughman.  “It’s vital to us that we protect our natural resources – that the water draining into the ocean where we surf is clean, that we save on energy and water consumption so future generations can also benefit.  That’s why we’re constantly striving to be more efficient.”

A sampling of Patagonia’s green practices includes the use of solar energy.  They operate the Ventura facility using approximately 1 million kilowatt hours a year.  Their 69-kilowatt solar system that was installed in 2005 powers approximately 80% of one of their Ventura campus buildings.  More recently, the addition of a 27.6 Kilowatt system, contributes to the overall total savings of 140,000-kilowatt hours per year.

The company also uses LED lighting in their retails stores and design lab.  Other programs include a “Drive Less Program” where employees are given $2 per ride (up to $4.00 per day) incentivize to find alternatives to driving their car to work (i.e. riding bicycles, public transportation, and walking to the office).

Two solar powered electrical vehicle (EV) charging stations were also recently installed in the company’s parking lot for use by employees, guests, and community members.

“We’ve been working on improvements to our campus landscape,” continues Loughman. “We are adding two bioswales and curb cuts in our parking lot to capture and/or filter any water runoff from the property in order to improve local stormwater maintenance.   .

To reduce waste going into the  landfill, Patagonia is also involved in the City’s pilot food waste program, composting food scraps from Patagonia’s café.

“We are always looking for ways to reduce the environmental impacts of our campus here in Ventura.” ,” said Loughman. “We enjoy sharing our story because maybe that will help to influence others in making a difference in their business and personal lives.”

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