Image Credit TD Bank
It's the first net zero energy bank branch in the USA, and one of 17 branches of the bank with LEED certification; this one is going platinum, with all kinds of green gizmos. will be rated DOE Class B, meaning that it will generate sufficient energy for its own needs on site from its ground and roof mounted solar panels: about 100,000 kWh, while projected to use 97,000.
So what's wrong with this picture?
Now I have been a TD Bank customer all my life; the TD stands for Toronto-Dominion. It has always been concerned about design (Mies Van Der Rohe designed its head office; Philip Johnson said it was the biggest Mies building complex in the world) and has been a big patron of environmental causes. Since it came to the States, it has been serious about its green initiatives.
"The nation's first net-zero energy bank is a continuation of TD Bank's ongoing efforts to reduce our environmental footprint," said Henke, [Real Estate Green Strategy Officer of TD Bank] in a statement. "In 2010 we became the largest U.S.-based bank to be carbon neutral by building LEED-certified stores and offices, and making continuous significant investments in renewable energy. With our new net-zero energy store, we are taking another step to become as green as our logo."
TD buys green power, recycles paper, and does its best to be a good green corporate citizen. But every time it builds another branch in the suburbs with its monster parking lot and its three lane drive-through ATMs, it is contributing to the creation of more greenhouse gas, more imported oil, more urban sprawl. They can't say no to suburban expansion; that's where the customers are. They probably can't even build that bank up at the front property to help build an urban streetscape; it is probably where it is because that is where the planners want it.
But until sprawl is reined in and the rules change to disincent these stand-alone buildings in the middle of parking lots, the net-zero designation is pretty superfluous; the 100,000 kWh is a drop in the bucket. It converts in energy to 2456 gallons of gasoline, the average consumption of five American drivers per year.
Energy efficiency is important, but transportation energy intensity is what is really going to make a difference.
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