Mountain Hardwear Nuts Out Some Green Moves

Somehow we missed Mountain Hardwear's move towards more sustainable practices. The outdoor gear and apparel company, which was started about 15 years ago by old hands from Sierra Designs, has been up to some interesting green type stuff this year.

Giving the initiatives pride of place in their PDF newsletter, they describe how almost half of their laminates for waterproof/breathable shellwear are now solvent free, how 20% of their Mountainwear line is made what they designate as 'sustainable fibers', meaning organic cotton, hemp or wool. And finally, on the product side of things, that their anti-microbial (low pong) treatments are derived from Chitosan, which while admirably biodegradable, will not endear itself to our vegan friends, as it is normally made from the exoskeletons of critters such as crustaceans.

And as the above pictures indicate they've also been busy greening their built environment. More on that after the fold.

Earlier this year Mountain Hardware moved operations to the 1930's Historic Places listed Ford Assembly Plant in Richmond, California. It was designed by architect Albert Kahn, who included features that Mountain Hardware say would be considered sustainable today "such as the saw tooth roof design with large northern skylights which provide incredible natural light and hinged windows along the western and northern walls which draw in the cool bay breeze."

Energy Efficiency
For their part Mountain Hardware are wishing to continue this legacy through judicious use of lighting that uses photosensitive cells that optimum illumination by balancing the artificial light with the varying natural light from the vast skylights. Air conditioning has been similarly configured to work with the natural coastal breezes. Energy that is required will be provided in partnership with the landlord and SunPower, via a 1 megawatt solar photovoltaic array on the south facing roof.

Interiors
For flooring the concrete underfoot was cleaned and sealed so as not to add undue materials extraction. But where other flooring was deemed necessary compressed bamboo, tiles of recycled car tyres and Earth Weave's wool/heap carpet have been employed.

New furniture is made in North America of PVC-free materials by Teknion, whom we observed doing their own greening way back here, with older pieces being donated a furniture reuse company.


Employees
Apparently employees can bike, bus and even kayak to work to the new location, and it will allow them to compost lunch scraps more readily as well. And it should be remembered that it is always people inside a business who make decisions (positive and otherwise) not the corporations themselves.

A point reiterated by Paige Boucher, Mountain Hardware's Public Relations Director, when she was presented with The Outdoor Industry Women's Coalition (OIWC) Pioneering Woman Award. "When I started out in this industry," Paige noted, "My motivations were simple and pretty selfish. I wanted to work in the industry that was closest to my outdoor passions, but now my perspective has changed. The crisis of global warming and the health crisis that our children face due to inactivity both weigh heavily on me. But, I realize that as part of the outdoor industry, I am in an ideal spot to effect change that can make a difference in both of those areas."

The company also has a formal make-a-difference endeavour - their philanthropic giving program, called Mountain Hardwear Gives Back.

::Mountain Lead

Lead photos by Al Lui, Joy Gray, Al Lui. Found on Mountain Hardwear's Flickr page.

More TreeHugger on Green Outdoor Companies:
Marmot Upcycle: Once More with Feeling.
Mountainsmith Set to Expand Their Recycled Series.
Pacific Outdoor Equipment - Sleeping With a Clearer Conscience.
• TreeHugger's How to Green Your Outdoor Sports.

Tags: Biking | California | Corporate Responsibility | Energy Efficiency | United States