Banks Continue to Step Up Green Initiatives
Green isn't just the color of money at major banks these days: both Bank of America and Wells Fargo have made news lately for a variety of eco-friendly initiatives. This week, two other major banks announced plans to lighten their environmental footprints.
On Wednesday, Europe's largest bank HSBC announced that it would donate $100 million to four environmental organizations -- the Climate Group, Earthwatch Institute, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the World Wildlife Foundation -- over the next five years to "help some of the world's biggest cities and most important rivers respond to climate change, as well as fund research and recruit environmental leaders worldwide." According to HSBC CEO Paul Lawrence, "Over the next five years HSBC will make responding to climate change central to our business operations and at the heart of the way we work with our clients across the world." On this side of the pond, Wachovia, the US' fourth largest bank, announced yesterday that it would build only "green" bank branches by the end of 2008. According to Reuters, the bank plans to build 300 green branches as it expands into California and Texas, with the first ones opening in Southern California. Customers will likely only notice "more natural light and better air quality"; company accountants, however, may see up to $80,000 in saved construction costs and a 20% reduction in operating expenses. The Reuters article did not note any specifics of the construction plans, or whether the company would seek LEED certification for these branches.