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Banks Steer Course From Greed to Green

Banks Steer Course From Greed to Green

Wachovia bank announces 300 new green branches but so far not committing to LEED certification.

October 26, 2007 —

With the steep drop in home sales and subprime mortgages imploding into black hole land, banks are looking for ways to keep customers coming to their loan desks and teller windows. An emerging pattern among some of the big banking players is committing to green loans, sustainable practices and charity support for environmental-stewarding projects.

Bank of America recently announced it is tossing $20 billion worth of monetary compost into loans, investments, philanthropy and unidentified services that are more green than greedy. BoA is also spending a cool $1.5 billion to get LEED green certification for all new banking centers and offices. For online customers, they offer the option of eliminating all paper involved in your personal banking. Everything is online. (Yet, those very pesky junk mail solicitations still roll in).

Wells Fargo, surprisingly, was named by the Environmental Protection Agency as the number one green energy purchaser in the country. Whole Foods was behind the Wells Fargo coach.

Europe’s largest bank, HSBC (also in the US) announced it is giving $100 million to four environmental organizations over the next five years “to respond to climate change, as well as fund research and recruit environmental leaders worldwide.”

Weighing in as the fourth largest bank in the US, Wachovia came out recently with the news that all new Wachovia branches will be built green beginning in 2008. There were no specifics in the announcement, other than an anticipated better lighting and air quality for customers in the 300 new centers planned for California and Texas. LEED stamp of approval was not mentioned in the Reuters press announcement. Banks with aspirations to less paper wastage, recycling, sustainable energy use, and natural, energy-efficient building methods is a promising trend. It also has the aura of hype around it.

These are huge international businesses that are marketing themselves to you as green in the US, but elsewhere they could be back in robber baron consciousness. Green in banking is great, and a green bank is better than a greedy bank. Check your bank out, or move to one that is sincere in its efforts. Small startup banks are sprouting green from the ground up.

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