We define the quality of our company by the degree to which we can reduce our impact on the environment. However, walking our talk means more than auditing the materials and methods we use for the products we make. It means taking a holistic approach to all aspects of our business, applying the lessons learned from sourcing lower impact dyes and organic cotton to maintaining our physical plant and powering our computers. We also believe in celebrating the cultural histories of our communities by recycling and restoring existing structures whenever possible.
Our Reno Service Center was built in 1996 at a cost of $19 million. Located on the banks of the Truckee River at the site of the old Tahoe Timber Lumber Mill, the Service Center embodies our core purpose of using business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. It cost us more to do it, but most of these green innovations will pay for themselves through 30-35% energy savings within three to eight years.
Architecturally spare and utilitarian in design, the Service Center was constructed to house the physical components required to ship Patagonia products throughout North America. But along with the loading docks, metal shelves, office furniture and mechanical conveyor and sorter, we incorporated environmental components to reduce our demand on energy, reuse building materials and give new purpose to recycled ones.
Inside the 171,000-square foot warehouse/office complex, whose steel frame, insulation and window glass contain recycled materials, energy efficient lighting systems rely on motion sensors to help conserve electricity. In winter, a radiant heating system that uses copper tubing and hot water saves natural gas. A bio-filtration system that employs an oil/water separator moves runoff from the roof and parking lot to percolate back into the ground.
The carpet is 100% recycled polyester, the restroom counter tops 100% recycled plastic and portions of the office walls are made of compressed field straw that's formaldehyde-free. Wallboard, paint, floor coverings and ceiling and shower tiles also use recycled content. All wood used is either reclaimed or sustainably harvested. The building is old-growth free.
In 1997, we built the Firehouse as a tribute to a turn-of-the-century fire station and local landmark, as well as a much needed addition to our Ventura campus. In building this reincarnation, we stayed as true to the original as possible, with some necessary bows to function, cost, modern aesthetics and most importantly, environmental considerations.
We wanted the Firehouse to be an example of a structure that has environmental integrity built-in. So, at every turn, environmental impact was considered. All steel framework has a minimum of 98.5% recycled content. 90% of the wood used is "reclaimed" from forest-fire downfall, old barns and bridges, etc. We even sweated the details, using 100% recycled plastic bathroom partitions, low-flow shower heads and toilets and lighting "zones" that use motion sensors to shut off unneeded lights.
In 1998, we became the first California company to buy all our electricity from newly constructed renewable energy plants. We currently operate 13 buildings in the state, including our headquarters and four stores, and use almost a million kilowatt-hours annually. Our Denver store is wind powered. We installed photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight directly into electricity at our outlet store in Reno.
We recognize that everything we do pollutes. We work tirelessly to reduce this pollution in our products, processes and facilities. It is our mission to demonstrate that alternatives to conventional, waste-intensive construction practices and energy generation not only exist, but yield products, structures and ultimately, lifestyles that are more sustainable and in harmony with our environment.