Clean by design : reduce the environmental footprint of textile manufacturers

Kering has joined forces with the Clean By Design project of the Natural Resources Defense Council to encourage its suppliers to reduce their CO2 emissions through energy and water efficiency measures.

Main project's drivers for reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

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Energy and resource efficiency

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Energy Decarbonisation

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Energy efficiency improvements

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Improving efficiency in non-energy resources

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Emission removal

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Financing low-carbon issuers or disinvestment from carbon assets

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Reduction of other greenhouse gases emission

Project objectives

The Clean by Design program (of which Kering is a partner) consists of reducing the environmental footprint of textile manufacturers by carrying out energy-water-chemical audits with suppliers, who undertake to implement measures to improvement identified by these audits.

Detailed project description

Fashion, broadly defined, is responsible for 20% of water pollution and 10% of global carbon emissions. To respond to this observation, the American NGO Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), designed the “Clean by Design” project proposing a clear and simple methodology to improve the efficiency of textile factories and save energy, water and chemical inputs.


The Kering Group joined the project in 2015. 25 of its Italian suppliers (spinning, dyeing, etc.) therefore benefit from an energy and water efficiency audit, which cost is assumed by Kering, then a custom action is defined for each manufacture.


At first reluctant to open their factories to outside auditors, suppliers quickly saw the interest in joining the program.

Clean by Design has a very persuasive argument: a positive return on investment is recorded on average in two and a half years for measures that are otherwise easy to put in place. Optimizing lighting or ventilation, ensuring more efficient maintenance or even more finely-tuned management of electricity consumption are among the 150 improvement actions identified under the program.


These actions mainly relate to:


– Improving water / energy management and monitoring

– Optimization of steam, water and compressed air distribution systems

– Work on lighting (LED, etc.), air conditioning, electric motors

– Thermal energy recovery

– Green energy production on site


The actions were followed in detail by Kering and the local technical partner to verify the implementation and the actual gains against the design gains.


Participation in the Clean by Design program is offered to strategic suppliers of the Maisons de Kering, and influences their “seller rating”.

Emission scope(s)

on which the project has a significant impact

Scope 1

Direct emissions generated by the company's activity.

Scope 2

Indirect emissions associated with the company's electricity and heat consumption.

Scope 3

Emissions induced (upstream or downstream) by the company's activities, products and/or services in its value chain.

Emission Removal

Carbon sinks creation, (BECCS, CCU/S, …)

Avoided Emissions

Emissions avoided by the activities, products and/or services in charge of the project, or by the financing of emission reduction projects.

Scope 3 – Improvement of the manufacturing processes of Kering suppliers 

  • Quantification : 13.600 TCO2/year 

Reduction in annual CO2 emissions by 19% on average per production site, following participation in the Clean by Design program.

Key points

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Invested amount

2,2 M €

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Starting date of the project


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Project localisation

Italy and China

Project maturity level

Prototype laboratory test (TRL 7)

Real life testing (TRL 7-8)

Pre-commercial prototype (TRL 9)

Small-scale implementation

Medium to large scale implementation

Economic profitability of the project (ROI)

Short term (0-3 years)

Middle term (4-10 years)

Long term (> 10 years)

Illustrations of the project

The Clean By Design project contributes to the following SDGs:

  • SDG 6 Clean water and sanitation: reduction of water withdrawals, better management of chemicals
  • SDG 7 Clean and affordable energy: return on investment of less than three years on energy efficiency actions implemented
  • SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production: more efficient supply chain in terms of energy per unit produced
  • SDG 17 Partnerships: partnership with the NGO Natural Ressrouce Defense Council

Very important reproducibility potential, and moreover targeted by the program itself. The desire of Kering and its partners is to set up Clean by Design with other fashion brands in several regions of the world.

This is what Kering has been working on in 2020, as in 2021 the Clean by Design program is extended to other fashion brands in Italy, this time under the aegis of the Apparel Impact Institute (AII).

The project has partnered with Legambiante, one of the most recognized Italian environmental associations, to ensure the smooth running of the project. A technical partner will support the project to perform audits and monitor actions.

A multi-brand collaboration is particularly relevant because suppliers very often work for several brands, so a collaborative approach is more efficient.

  • Initial partnership with NRDC, which is the origin of the Clean by Design methodology. Kering implemented it in Italy, then upstream of the textile supply chain in China.
  • In recent years, the port of Clean by Design has been taken over by Apparel Impact Institute (AII).
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Contact the company carrying the project :

Kéring’s other projects :